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2015 School Library of the Year Award Winners Announced by School Library Journal and Scholastic

NEW YORK, NY – Today, school librarian Kristina Holzweiss of Bay Shore Middle School in Bay Shore, NY was named as the 2015 recipient of the School Library Journal (SLJ) School Librarian of the Year Award. Sponsored by Scholastic Library Publishing, this award honors K–12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools and services to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies. Lakisha Brinson of Amqui Elementary School in Nashville, TN and Sally Smollar of Plumosa School of the Arts in Delray Beach, FL were selected as finalists. All three school librarians are currently featured in the September 2015 issue of School Library Journal, available in print with winner Kristina Holzweiss as the cover story, and on SLJ.com.

To learn more about the School Librarian of the Year Award and this year’s honorees, visithttp://slj.com/librarianoftheyear.

As 2015 School Librarian of the Year, Kristina Holzweiss will receive a $2,500 cash award, $2,500 worth of print and digital materials from Scholastic Library Publishing and an invitation to the SLJ Leadership Summit in Seattle. Each finalist will receive $500 in materials of their choice from Scholastic Library Publishing. Nominations were evaluated based on several criteria including exemplary service to fulfill the needs of students and the school community; creativity in programming and use of content; collaboration with teacher peers, staff, and administrators; demonstrated student engagement; and exemplary use of technology tools. All School Librarian of the Year Award nominations were judged by a qualified panel of industry professionals including 2014 School Librarian of the Year Michelle Colte.

Quotes about the 2015 School Librarian of the Year Award:

Kristina Holzweiss, 2015 School Librarian of the Year
“I hope to inspire other school librarians and educators to create new programs for their students and communities. For many students, the school library is an oasis, a safe haven where they can learn about the world around them without leaving their own seats.”

Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal
“This year’s honorees are stellar educators, each integrating technology to enhance learning in creative programs that both serve and inspire young learners. School Library Journal is honored to support them through the School Librarian of the Year Award, which underscores the role of these professionals, who provide critical support to students and teachers nationwide.”

Allison Henderson, Vice President and General Manager, Scholastic Library Publishing
“By embracing the opportunities made possible with technology, these 2015 winners are inspiring their peers and encouraging students to become passionate readers and lifelong learners. Scholastic is proud to celebrate the thoughtful, dedicated and endlessly creative work of school librarians across the country by sponsoring the School Librarian of the Year Award since its inception. These tech-savvy innovators are breaking the mold and we can’t wait to see what exciting ideas and programs they implement in the future.”

About the 2015 School Librarian of the Year Winner and Finalists:

2015 School Librarian of the Year Kristina Holzweiss, Bay Shore Middle School, Bay Shore, NY
Utilizing her own flexibility and creative skills, Kristina Holzweiss has created a culture of innovation and exploration within her library, focused on finding the right tech tools for the right job. Her exceptional efforts and accomplishments have included:

  • cultivating a hands-on environment of discovering, questioning and exploration in the library through the creation of a dynamic makerspace for students;
  • developing “GENIUS Hour,” a teamwork-based program where students create original projects or presentations while exploring their own passions ranging from including robotics to coding;
  • engaging the community in the first “SLIME” (Students of Long Island Maker Expo), a unique Maker Faire encouraging local student participants to explore exhibition halls and dive into maker activities; and
  • collaborating with teachers and peers through tech workshops, social media, presenting at conferences and writing a monthly column for School Library Connection.

Finalist Lakisha Brinson, Amqui Elementary School, Nashville, TN
As a technology guru and former teacher, Lakisha Brinson is constantly seeking out new, exciting ways to engage teachers and impact the lives of her students. Brinson goes above and beyond to deepen her knowledge of technology and match tech tools to the needs of educators through training sessions and interactive games like “digital bingo.” When Brinson isn’t attending tech conferences, hosting parent workshops or training staff to implement project-based learning, she focuses on promoting discussion and discovery in the library through creative programs such as Book Tasting, DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) and Banned Book Week events.

Finalist Sally Smollar, Plumosa School of the Arts, Delray Beach, FL
During her Digital Media class, Sally Smollar engages students, particularly reluctant readers, to collaborate and find the joy in learning with exciting projects—from creating book posters, iMovie book trailers on iPads and stop-motion animation films, to hosting mock trials and organizing author visits to the school. As a member of her district’s Tech Ambassador Program, Smollar actively works to support faculty through teacher training and infusing the curriculum with the latest tech tools. To connect with the larger community, she hosted a workshop for parents and local residents about cyber safety, featuring a special presentation from the State Attorney’s office.

To learn more about the winners and their accomplishments, visit http://slj.com/librarianoftheyear.

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