Congratulations to the 2024 School Librarian of the Year Award Winner and Finalists!

pgodbole  //  Mar 19, 2024

Congratulations to the 2024 School Librarian of the Year Award Winner and Finalists!

School Library Journal (SLJ) and Scholastic are excited to announce the 2024 School Librarian of the Year winner and finalists. Each year, the School Librarian of the Year Award honors the work of K–12 library professionals, recognizing them for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies.

The 2024 winner and finalists are:
  • Winner: Amanda Chacon, HM Carroll Elementary School, Houston, TX
  • Finalists: Jessie Lynn Storrs, El Centro Jr./Sr. High School, Sacramento Youth Detention Facility, Sacramento, CA; Tamara Cox, Wren High School, Piedmont, SC 

These educators come from vastly different backgrounds, but have one key characteristic in common: a steadfast passion for bringing a love of learning and literature to their students. Amanda, Jessie, and Tamara have made their respective school libraries a joyful place for students and staff alike. They foster a strong sense of community and ensure diverse book collections are available so each and every student can see themselves reflected within the pages.

This year’s submissions were judged by Julie Stivers, the 2023 School Librarian of the Year, and Dr. Kevin M. Washburn, Director, Library Programs, DC Public Schools; a Scholastic representative; and SLJ editors.

“At SLJ, we look forward to honoring exemplary educators with the School Librarian of the Year Award, who roll up their sleeves and tackle the crucially important work each day of instilling a love of learning and literacy in the next generation,” Kathy Ishizuka, Editor in Chief, SLJ said. “Amanda Chacon, Jessie Lynn Storrs, and Tamara Cox are shining examples of the type of strong leadership and creativity needed in school libraries these days to engage kids of all ages in their classrooms and communities.”

Keep reading to learn more about Amanda, Jessie, and Tamara!


Winner: Amanda Chacon at HM Carroll Elementary School in Houston, TX

Amanda Chacon works tirelessly to cultivate inclusive, engaging, and innovative library spaces where all children can thrive. A librarian with a very impressive 14-year career, she has spent the past seven years at HM Carroll Elementary, supporting a population that’s 93% economically disadvantaged and primarily Spanish-speaking. As the sole librarian for the school, Amanda has transformed the 3,000 square foot space into a haven for students to find community, spark creativity, and cultivate an innovative spirit through a series of programs and projects.   

One of her more notable accomplishments includes securing a variety of grants to fortify the library’s collection for her school’s diverse bilingual population. For instance, a Beyond Words grant helped her school replace many books lost in the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, and a Laura Bush Foundation grant allowed Amanda to increase the library’s Spanish language materials and even add bilingual shelf signage for her students’ ease. 

Her passion for improving her school’s library doesn’t stop there, however. Amanda’s innovative spirit led her to create the STEM GEMS and LEGO Leaders clubs – both of which offer a safe and supportive environment for students to engage in tech opportunities that lead to learning and growth. Amanda recognized her district’s need for inclusive STEM programming, especially for girls, and not only spearheaded these clubs, but also continues to advocate for the role of STEM in the library by instituting a range of programs like Storybook STEM and Books & Breakfast. A Storybook STEM @ Home initiative Amanda secured through a grant even allowed students to incorporate their families into the program by reading the book “Papa’s Mechanical Fish” together and completing a kit of STEM lessons afterwards.   

Amanda’s peers often note that her most admirable quality is her unbridled passion for books and literacy. Her deep love of literature is often noticed and passed down to her students through the engaging programming she curates for them at the library. 

Beyond the classroom, Amanda has an impressive record of certifications and ambassadorships, proving her dedication to professional development. From being selected as one of 50 educators to join the inaugural cohort of Amazon Future Engineer’s Teacher Ambassadors Program, to earning the NISE STEM Teacher Certification (among many others), Amanda channels her learnings from these programs into her own teaching, elevating the educational experiences of others along the way. 

Amanda’s driving passion lies in her commitment to establish a warm and inviting library environment that champions the learning, creativity, and innovation of each and every student. Overall, she has a profound appreciation for the inquisitive students she has the privilege to serve as librarian at HM Carroll Elementary.

Becky Zalesnik, Executive Director of Innovative Programs, Sheldon ISD, shares: “Working closely with Ms. Chacon over the past several years, I can tell you that in all of my 34 years in education, I have never seen a more dedicated and skilled librarian, but more importantly, she is always on top of the latest trends for not only the best books for her students, but also the best resources to provide for her teachers and campus. She is my go-to librarian for anything that I need in the district as she is truly a 21st century librarian. She is a trainer, teacher, and team player.”


Finalist: Jessie Lynn Storrs, El Centro Jr./Sr. High School, Sacramento Youth Detention Facility, Sacramento, CA  

As the Teacher Librarian/Media Instructor at El Centro Jr./Sr. High School located within Sacramento Juvenile Hall Youth Detention Facility, Jessie Storrs serves incarcerated youth in grades 5-12 as well as graduates and community college students. In her role and beyond, Jessie wears many hats including: a full time credentialed English/media teacher at Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) Court, the Site Technology Liaison, and a member of the Breakfree Education Fellowship which serves incarcerated and post-incarcerated populations. 

Jessie’s overarching goal is to use the privilege of her peculiar and lucky situation to make the inequities in court and community school environments more visible, and allow her students to seek freedom through books. Throughout her tenure, she has worked to enact positive change in the lives of our most at-risk youth by creating a cozy library environment within the walls of the youth detention facility, running seasonal library and SEL programming, conducting weekly board game clubs, and checking in on her students to gauge their mental and emotional needs. 

Jessie is proud to say her work has led to an increase in community partnerships and donations that fund the library – allowing her to focus on providing the most contemporary and diverse young adult titles and non-fiction material for her kids. Throughout her career, she has noticed a voracity in reading among her student residents that’s unparalleled in other high schools – fueling her drive to curate high interest and culturally responsive books inclusive to all young people in the facility. 

Colleagues of Jessie note how collaboration is a cornerstone of her approach to being a librarian. Her dedication to her craft led her to make inroads with organizations like the Sacramento Public Library and Wiley Manuel Bar Association in order to cultivate more resources and literature to spark joy in her students.

Barbara Modlin, Principal, El Centro Jr./Sr. High School, shares: “Ms. Storrs, affectionately known as ‘Ms. Stories’ by our students, has a wonderful rapport with students and staff, who greatly respect her as a mentor and guide. Her integration of technology tools and community outreach to foster a rich, interactive library experience for incarcerated youth speaks volumes about her dedication to inclusivity and equity."


Finalist: Tamara Cox, Wren High School, Piedmont, SC

South Carolina school librarian Tamara Cox serves over 1,300 students and 100 faculty members at Wren High School with a book budget of less than $17 per student. Over the years, Tamara has worked diligently to modernize her library’s collection and bring diverse offerings to her mostly white student body. 

Thanks to Tamara, today the Wren High library is a hub of learning that consists of over 7,000 print and electronic items for checkout, including books in Spanish, large print for visually impaired readers, and audiobooks. Outside of the 4,200 square foot space, Tamara connects with the community at large through service projects, presentations to parent groups, and even happy phone calls home to families of successful readers. 

Colleagues of Tamara applaud her passion for her job, noting that she consistently goes out of her way to learn about units teachers are covering and creating lessons that will challenge students to further their learnings in the library. Examples include: analysis of current events found in New York Times articles, exploring the work of Jane Goodall to celebrate Women’s History Month, and creating poetry picnic stations for Poetry Month. 

As the cherry on top, Tamara is a top state educator as well, and was chosen as one of the top five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year program – the first librarian to receive this honor. As a state librarian leader, she has worked with the SC State Library, state department of education office, and even testified at state education committee hearings to speak up for school libraries and public education.  

Michelle Marte, Parent of three current/former Wren High School students, shares: “When we initially moved to South Carolina, my daughter had trouble adjusting to school, and reading was something she connected with. Mrs. Cox went out of her way to help her feel safe and wanted in the library. She patiently helped her select books that met her criteria while also encouraging her to explore the options around her. She created such a welcoming safe space that my daughter began to feel more comfortable in her new environment."

Congratulations to Amanda, Jessie, and Tamara!