Robert E. Lee High School, located in Springfield, is the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) 2018 National School Library Program of the Year (NSLPY) Award recipient. Sponsored by Follett, the NSLPY Award annually recognizes a single school or districtwide school library program that meets the needs of the changing school and library environment and is fully integrated into the school's curriculum. The recipient receives an obelisk – the symbol of school library excellence – and $10,000 toward its school library program. Robert E. Lee High School is an accredited International Baccalaureate (IBO) World School that serves more than 1,700 students in grades 9-12. The school’s mission is to prepare students to be global citizens by challenging them academically; connecting school learning to their future; and providing a safe, supportive and nurturing environment.
THE LEE SCHOOL LIBRARY and school librarians Mimi Marquet and Lisa Koch are critical pieces of ensuring the mission succeeds. “Ms. Marquet and Ms. Koch ensure every student achieves the outcomes of our ‘Portrait of a Graduate’ framework by crafting student-centered, equitable learning experiences that address the needs and interests of each student,” wrote Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Braband in his letter of support. “Their use of an inquiry approach to learning and their leadership in blended learning has increased student engagement and fostered a deeply collaborative culture among instructional staff. They are leaders who create a dynamic library atmosphere that engages the entire school community.” To engage learners, Marquet and Koch recently developed a school-wide Hour of Code event and went further by creating curriculum for classes with and without devices. Instructions for the event were provided in multiple languages so that every student could fully participate. The co-librarians also recruited all social studies teachers and students to participate in a service-learning opportunity that included writing letters of gratitude to active duty military or veterans; the letters were sent to a non-profit to be included in care packages. Marquet and Koch were also responsible for coordinating the school-wide reading program designed to foster a sense of community. Every student and staff member was given a copy of Congressman John Lewis’s Civil Rights memoir “March.” Beyond leading book discussions, the school librarians developed monthly supporting lessons for teachers, created videos, and established an art installation. “It was such a great pleasure to be able to go and view such a strong and vibrant library program such as the one that Mimi and Lisa have developed at Robert E. Lee High School,” said Ken Stewart, award committee chair. “When asked to describe the program, teachers and administrators both shared one common thought – infiltrating! As they discussed the program, we could see how the library was infused – actually infiltrated – into every corner of the school community. It's seeing spirited and energetic school library programs such as this that makes me proud to be a school librarian!”
AASL PRESIDENT Steven Yates added his compliments, “Congratulations to Robert E. Lee High School on the rare achievement of being named the National School Library Program of the Year! This honor recognizes a commitment to excellence in providing equitable access to diverse collections and literacy leadership throughout the community. I look forward to celebrating with you this June in New Orleans!” The AASL award winners will be honored at the AASL Awards Ceremony & President’s Program during the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. The ceremony will be held from 9 a.m. – 12 noon on Saturday, June 23.