Kentucky’s Teacher of the Year Advocates for the Need for School Librarians

There is a  2012 Teacher of the Year in Kentucky who “gets it.” And, she expresses well what students need to do to be successful meeting the Common Core standards, tying them closely to what it is that school librarians do. She does so in an article that can be sent to every superintendent, shared with school boards and sent out to all the teachers in your school with a message: “You have a Common Core partner, I can help.” This teacher is an advocate for school libraries who we all wish we had in our corner when we need to influence decision-makers. The strength of her advocacy is that she frames her support for school librarians in terms of her students—something that we need to do all the time when we Make Some Noise!

What do students need?  According to Kimberly Shearer in the Kentucky Teacher digital newsletter, the Common Core standards “…emphasize 21st-century skills and require our students to be able to collaborate with others within small and large communities. They require our students to be able to locate and evaluate sources using technology. And they require our students to be able to share information and to build their own arguments while considering things such as audience, purpose and language.”

Shearer sees that:

  • Students must be able to evaluate information.
  • Students must be able to collaborate.
  • Students must master technology.
  • Students must be readers.
Eighth graders Skype with author Jeremy Schaap, Author of Cinderella Man

Lake Placid eighth grade students Skype with author Jeremy Schaap, author of Cinderella Man, learning about writing and becoming more enthusiastic and better readers. One student shares his question with the author.

Does anyone else remember the old game Concentration where cards were turned over until there was a match? School librarians instantly see the match with her needs for her students with the AASL Standards for the 21sr-Century Learner, summarized as “Think, Create, Share, and Grow.” It’s hard to say that Ms Shearer is actually aware of the standards as an English teacher, but it’s clear that she can expect the school librarian in her school to work with her and their students as an “in house expert” of the above skills. She realizes that “[s]chool librarians have the resources, training and knowledge to help us make those meaningful connections between the Common Core Standards and our students’ interests and lives.”

Others besides Shearer and the readers of Kentucky Librarian newsletter need to hear this message. Send out an e-mail to everyone the first week of school—or does that seem too forward to you? School librarians sometimes feel reluctant to promote what they do, instead seeing it as promoting themselves. I totally understand.

It took a shift in my thinking to realize that it is my job to promote and market what a strong library program is and the difference it makes for kids—and that it’s not about me, it’s about the program. I was only a bit surprised that today’s AASL Advocacy “Tip of the Day” was: ”If sharing information about your program is outside of your comfort zone, remember, you are not tooting your own horn; you are advocating for students and student learning.” This AASL subscription service of advocacy tips and I are often on the same page and I get tons of ideas that encourage me to continue my promotion and marketing efforts—try it! The link to join is at the bottom of the page.

Real Life Action: I posted the Shearer article on my Facebook page a few days ago and read it through a couple of times before writing this post. One of my Facebook friends, Chris Gibson, a school librarian from New York City read it there while waiting in a principal’s office for an interview for a new job. She reported to me in Facebook chat that she was inspired by Shearer’s words, could see the connections to her own philosophy about her librarianship, used some of the concepts during her interview. She could tell that the principal was impressed.  At that point, she was waiting to get an e-mail confirming her as the new librarian/tech coordinator for a newly refurbished school library. This morning, she got the e-mail! She will be working in an open access library and computer lab at P.S. 008 Issac Varian School in the Bronx with a principal who “gets” that students must be able to evaluate information, collaborate, master technology and be readers.  And that the school librarian has a big role in making that happen.

Karen Shearer, Chis Gibson thanks you for your inspiration. So do I. Let’s all use Shearer’s article to Make Some Noise!

Students collaborate to make WWII iMovies

Lake Placid eighth graders collaborate to make World War II iMovies as part of a multi-disciplinary final project.







Sara Kelly Johns About Sara Kelly Johns

Sara Kelly Johns ( is the school librarian at Lake Placid (NY) Middle/High School, and knows that she has the best job in the school. She is also an instructor for the Mansfield University School of Library and Information Technologies and speaks and writes about school librarian activism. Find her on Twitter as @skjohns or on Facebook.


  1. Sara,
    Your facebook post about Kimberly Shearer came at the best possible moment. When I went for my job interview the other day, my brain was seriously stuck in Summer Mode. I reviewed my notes and my portfolio, but still did not feel ready for my important interview. With iPhone in hand, I browsed through FB, saw your post, and read Kimberly Shearer’s article. I did this while waiting in the office outside the Principal’s office! What amazes me the most here (besides the inspiring article) is the power of social media and mobile technology. Wow!