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MLS graduates feel the love, win national I Love My Librarian Award

Long_t.jpgLagarde_t.jpgBOONE—Two Appalachian State University graduates are among 10 librarians from across the United States to win the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award.

Long.jpgElizabeth “Betsy” Long

Lagarde.jpg
Jennifer U. LaGarde

They are Elizabeth “Betsy” Long, from the Doby’s Mill Elementary School Media Center in Lugoff, S. C., and Jennifer U. LaGarde, a teacher librarian at Myrtle Grove Middle School in Wilmington. Long graduated from the Master of Library Science (MLS) Program in Appalachian’s Reich College of Education in 1996. LaGarde received her MLS degree in 2007.

The award, which is administered by the American Library Association, encourages library users to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college or university librarians.

The librarians each received a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and $500 travel stipend to attend an awards reception held Dec. 8 in New York hosted by The New York Times. They also received a plaque to display in their school’s library.

Long was praised for creating an inviting learning space at her school. “Each day, she utilizes her collaborative leadership and technology skills to assist students in developing their individual talents and pathways by creating programs and activities that foster and nurture their unique skills and goals,” a nominator wrote.

Long was called an “instructional partner” and praised for her work benefiting student learning across the grade levels by collaborating with regular and special education teachers to integrate research, reference and literacy materials into standards-based instruction.

Her innovative approaches to exciting children about reading and other subjects include:

  • Family Reading Nights that allow families to visit the media center in the evening to read together and check out books to read at home
  • History Hounds Fourth Grade Book Club
  • W.A.L.K., a program for second through fifth grade students that provides Apple iPods loaded with audiobooks for them to use while walking on the school’s fitness trail during recess
  • Collaboration with teachers to develop lessons that target South Carolina standards in language arts, social studies, science, and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards.
  • A pilot eReader program, one of the first in the country, in which students used eReaders for both reading assignments and reading for pleasure
  • Receipt of external funding that more than tripled the library’s collection of bilingual books, graphic novels and non-fiction texts
  • Video trailers for popular books created by students that link student book reviews to book covers via QR codes
  • LaGarde “shares what she knows, inspires and empowers her colleagues to do their very best work; she pushes teachers to step outside their comfort zones to try new things and is constantly on the hunt for new learning opportunities herself,” according to her nominator. “What’s more, Jennifer’s energy, enthusiasm and skill as an educator have reshaped my thinking about the role of the school librarian and have turned this skeptic into a true believer.”

    Myrtle Grove Middle School is a Title 1 Middle School with a large percentage of students who receive free and/or reduced lunch. The diverse student population includes students for whom English is not their first language, students who have been identified as highly functioning autistic, students with learning disabilities and students whose instruction is modified as a behavioral intervention. The 750-member student body represents seven different languages and a diverse ethnic and socio-economic background.

    “Her passion for meeting the diverse learning needs of our student population and serving as a leader among our teachers keeps her constantly seeking opportunities to improve our library, our school, our district and her contributions to each,” the nominator wrote.

    Programs implanted by LaGarde to encourage students to read include:

  • A pilot eReader program, one of the first in the country, in which students used eReaders for both reading assignments and reading for pleasure
  • Receipt of external funding that more than tripled the library’s collection of bilingual books, graphic novels and non-fiction texts
  • Video trailers for popular books created by students that link student book reviews to book covers via QR codes
  • An annual storytelling festival at Myrtle Grove
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