Scholastic Library Publishing and School Library Journal have officially announced the inaugural winner of their School Librarian of the Year Award, an honor that recognizes K-12 tech-savvy library professionals. The winner of this first-time award was Michelle Colte, who is the library media specialist at Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, Hawaii.

Runners-up were Andy Plemmons from Athens, Georgia, and Colleen G​raves of Flower Mound, Texas. According to School Library Journal, there was a pool of 92 applicants vying for the coveted award.

The title of Librarian of the Year was given to Colte due to her remarkable usage of educational technology, ability to collaborate, and creative approach to learning. This exemplifies the growing emphasis on a creative and integrated curriculum, as more school districts look to modernize classrooms and develop more collaborative learning environments.

The Importance of a Media Center

Colte, a Wisconsin native, was one of 50 educators chosen to attend Google Teacher Academy last year. She has been an integral force in making Hale Kula Elementary a school well-known for its technology usage and contemporary pedagogy. To do so, Colte had to push herself to learn new technology that would benefit her students. Now, the library at Hale Kula is an interactive learning space that offers students creative ways to learn skills such as coding.

According to School Library Journal, Colte does this in a variety of ways, using popular videogames such as Minecraft to teach lessons in economics or using video conferencing services to connect students with academic experts. Colte’s library is in many ways a multifaceted tech center, where students utilize all kinds of technology.

It’s important for teachers to collaborate closely with librarians to implement these types of learning strategies. Modern school libraries are usually a technological hub equipped with computers and wireless Internet, giving students an access point to online resources.

The next important step for many schools is to make wireless access available on a school-wide level, allowing students to utilize tech devices in the classroom. However, some districts simply don’t have the resources for that type of technological overhaul in the immediate future, and in the meantime, setting up media centers run by tech-savvy librarians such as Colte is imperative. That way, students will always have a local learning space to accomplish schoolwork, collaborate with classmates and learn essential tech skills.