Today, Scholastic and School Library Journal (SLJ) are announcing the 2022 School Librarian of the Year winner and finalists:
- K.C. Boyd, Jefferson Middle School Academy, Washington, D.C.
- Pia Alliende, Redmond (OR) Public Schools, Elton Gregory Middle School, Redmond, OR
- Andy Spinks, Campbell High School, Smyrna, GA
Every year, the School Librarian of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding work of K-12 library professionals. Those who receive this recognition have consistently demonstrated an exceptional use of technology and print materials to not only successfully engage students in learning, but to also spark new ideas within their school and community.
Despite two full years of learning disruptions, these educators have continued to support and encourage their students by adapting resources and creating virtual learning opportunities. K.C., Pia, and Andy have persevered through the complications of COVID-19 and provided their students with the support and resources needed in these challenging times. Their continuous efforts towards literacy and inclusion have helped them create welcoming and collaborative environments for their students.
This year’s program was judged by Amanda Jones, 2021 School Librarian of the Year; Dr. Mike Daria, Superintendent, Tuscaloosa (AL) City Schools; SLJ editors; and a Scholastic Trade Publishing representative.
Kathy Ishizuka, Editor-in-Chief of School Library Journal, says: SLJ is privileged to honor these stellar educators, who apply creativity and passion in serving students, and imbuing their school communities with a spirit of curiosity and joyful learning—and that’s something we need now more than ever. Exemplars of the profession, the School Librarian of the Year Award winners underscore the important work librarians do nationwide fostering knowledge and skills across the spectrum of literacy.
To learn more about these educators, click here. Congratulations, K.C., Pia, and Andy!
Winner: K.C. Boyd at Jefferson Middle School Academy in Washington, D.C
As the school librarian at Jefferson Middle School Academy, K.C. Boyd cultivates a program strong in student engagement and cross collaboration with fellow educators.
During her time as librarian, she has led many campaigns within a local education union (WTU 6) in order to reinstate librarians at every school within the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Her political savvy and leadership has reaffirmed the need for strong librarianship within school districts and highlighted the common goal of student excellence among educators.
Her work continues to inspire educators and remind policymakers of the power of a strong library system. Through many initiatives such as read-ins, READ posters, and student contests, she has successfully kept the needle moving toward a more supportive and inclusive literacy environment.
Since 2014, K.C.’s efforts to drive learning have resulted in an increase in student satisfaction from 64 percent to 89 percent. Through K.C’s open access library policy and a successful makerspace program, she collaborates with teachers and students on a variety of subjects and projects that not only support curriculum initiatives but social-emotional learning, too.
Teachers and parents often remark how K.C. successfully encourages reluctant and struggling readers to embrace and enjoy reading. Additionally, her ability to use the themes present in books as a social and emotional learning tool has helped students and families during the pandemic and beyond. For instance, under K.C.’s guidance, students designed more efficient pedestrian walkways in Washington D.C.—initiatives like these not only help students find creative expression in times of isolation, but they also help demonstrate incredible student capabilities for real-world innovation.
As one of K.C.’s passion projects, she created “green screen projects,” which students have produced pledge cards for National Bullying Prevention Month, student READ posters and digital citizenship awareness. K.C’s students also regularly participate in holiday hands-on projects that can be seen on display throughout the library. Those project include: Hispanic Heritage Month, Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Teacher and Staff Appreciation Day, and more.
Additionally, K.C. also has been recognized and served in numerous leadership positions including: 2015 Library Journal Mover/Shaker, 2021-2022 Ambassador News Literacy Project, 2020-2022 DCPS Library Corp, 2020-2022 DCLA Advocacy Director, 2021 ALA Committee on Committees, 2020 Newbery Award Committee, and 2020-2022 AASL Digital Tools Committee. K.C.’s work as a national advocate and leader supports her school in providing excellent instructional strategies that align to the AASL School Library Standards and are reflective of an effective school library program.
Outside of the classroom, K.C. is active on social media (and is often quoted through her popular hashtag, #KC_SaidIt).
Dr. Kevin M. Washburn MLIS, NBCT, Ed.D Director, Library Programs District of Columbia Public Schools shares: “In my work with Ms. Boyd over the past few years, I have seen a leader dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children, to address issues of systemic racism, and bridge the equity divides across multiple levels that limit access to information and resources. Ms. Boyd is passionate about finding solutions that engage communities towards avenues of action, to move beyond historical barriers, and to find inspiration from solutions that engage all stakeholders.”
Learn more about K.C. and follow her on social media: K.C. Boyd (sociatap.com)
Finalist: Pia Alliende at Redmond (OR) Public Schools
As Redmond (OR) Public Schools’ District Librarian and Elton Gregory Middle School’s Library Technician, Pia Alliende serves more than 7,000 students in the district. At the middle school, Pia has developed an inclusive atmosphere where students and teachers are able to explore new educational possibilities, find updated culturally responsive texts, as well as a new digitized collection available on or off site.
Colleagues of Pia note how adept she is at providing guidance and knowledge in the district’s inclusivity efforts. A native Chilean, Hispanic culture is close to Pia’s heart. Throughout her time as library technician she has advocated for more texts to be available in Spanish and English, as 20.6 percent of her middle school students identify as Hispanic and 11.5 percent claim Spanish as their first language.
Pia is a member of Redmond School District’s (RSD) equity taskforce, a group of educators focused on improving internal issues and removing systemic barriers within the district. She also volunteers as the Co-Chair of the Oregon Library Association’s EDI and Antiracism Committee and hopes to one day volunteer at a detention center on the U.S. southern border. One of her favorite initiatives has been creating the Latinx Club, a group for students to come together, and explore and celebrate commonalities.
Pia not only works to better her site’s library collection and availability, she also works to elevate the entire district’s quality. Through a total of four awarded grants in 2021, Pia was able to secure $24,000 in grants to boost the library’s selection, providing e-books and audio books, hosting author visits, and holding a monthly bilingual library night program.
Even when grants are not available, Pia has strived to fund library budgets with grassroots efforts. In the fall of 2021, she participated in the Big Lonely bike-packing race with her daughter and traveled more than 347 miles of Oregon, finishing with the 12 participants who remained out of 38. Along the way, she documented her trip and started a GoFundMe page, raising nearly $2,500 that she divided evenly between schools in the district and donated the funds for new books.
Chad Lowe, Principal, Pilot Butte Middle School shares: “Pia is an outstanding librarian, but more importantly, she is an exceptional educator with an outstanding heart for people. She was great at creating a safe and open learning environment in which students (and staff) wanted to dig deeper to understand and appreciate the content and curriculum. She opened doors and minds to educational exploration, and we all felt safe and respected to take academic risks. No task was too big or too small for Pia, and she has a positive impact on everyone she meets.”
Finalist: Andy Spinks at Campbell High School in Smyrna, GA
With 25 years of experience, Andy Spinks has worked at the school, state, and district level. Now, as lead librarian, he oversees a new 12,000-square-footlearning commons which includes three separate teaching areas, three group study rooms, a makerspace, an audio recording studio, and a developing video production studio. Since its opening in the fall of 2021, more than 75 percent of the student body has visited the leaning commons independently.
The library staff and program have been recognized for their creative efforts and have been granted the Georgia Exemplary Library Media Program Award. Andy worked with the owner of a local music store in order to build the recording studio, and added several technologies including beat-making equipment, recording software, and more. The studio issued for a wide range of artistic expression, including: podcasts, band auditions, and creating freestyle rap entertainment. By cultivating this space and creating an environment for expression, Andy has encouraged and protected Black culture by welcoming hip-hop within his district’s school. For this effort, Andy received the 2021 Intellectual Freedom Sward from the Georgia Library Media Association. The Intellectual Freedom Sward recognizes individuals for upholding the principles of intellectual freedom as set forth by the American Library Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the American Library Association (ALA).
Andy is also dedicated to improving inclusion efforts within the library by focusing on expanding the non-fiction section. With a student population that is 33 percent Hispanic and 40 percent Black, Andy wants the library collection to reflect the school’s diversity. Through weeding old titles and adding new texts that better represent the student population, he has made it possible for students to see themselves in the collection. In 2019, he collaborated with another teacher to lead an anti-racism book study for the faculty, helping other educators recognize limitations and begin to improve the district’s cultural awareness. Despite censorship barriers, Andy remains committed to providing students equal access and equal opportunity to books that celebrate culture and affirm identity.
Andy persistently promotes collaboration and inclusivity among students and staff, and his efforts have been celebrated by many.
Holly Frilot, Supervisor, Library Media Education, Cobb County School District shares: Andy fundamentally believes in the power of strong library media programs and the positive impact they have on student achievement and engagement in school. He is a passionate champion of student voice in his high school library media program and works tirelessly to make his library learning commons a place where every one of his 3,000 students know they belong.
Congratulations to K.C., Pia and Andy!