MLIS graduate Sally Smollar has been selected as one of two finalists for the 2015 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year Award. This annual award, sponsored by Scholastic Library Publishing, selects K-12 library professionals based on their exemplary use of 21st century tools and services in ways that encourage students to foster multiple literacies.
Smollar is the school librarian at the Plumosa School of the Arts (PSOA) in Delray Beach, FL, where she also teaches digital media to third, fourth, and fifth graders. Her passion for reading extends to these students, and she engages them in projects that “make them want to jump out of bed in the morning.” In fact, one of her fourth graders, Wyatt, has started waking up early every morning to get some reading in before school.
Understanding the growing importance of digital technologies, Smollar has made strides in teaching her students about media. One of her projects involved students creating iMovie projects to advertise the Sunshine State Young Reader nominees. Some of her students have become proficient in programs such as Keynote and PowerPoint, possessing digital skills that even their parents may not know.
She has also introduced her students to the world of law by working with the Palm Beach County Bar Association to host mock trials. Additionally, through PSA’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, she has introduced students to organic gardening. 31 of her students entered plants to the Grow’ums Blue Ribbon Contest, and several won blue ribbons.
Smollar is remarkable because she introduces students as young as third graders to a spectrum of learning experiences that they likely never would have encountered without her.
She says, “You give children opportunities to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t get to do. You give them inspiration.”
Her concern for her students extends further to their parents. She invited Gregory Schiller, Special Predator Enforcement Prosecutor with the Florida State Attorney’s office, to come to the school to speak to the adults about cyber bullying. He also discussed the dangers of using location tracking via GPS or Bluetooth on computers or mobile devices.
Smollar’s guidance will undoubtedly lead students to great success. In fact, one of her past students currently works with ABC News in New York City.
To learn more about FSU’s MLIS degree, visit the program’s website here.