Jennifer Jamison has worked hard to make the Atlantic City school libraries a crucial part of students' education. Today she will be nationally recognized for her efforts as one of 10 librarians to receive an I Love My Librarian award from the Carnegie Corp. of New York, the American Library Association and The New York Times, which is hosting today's awards ceremony in New York City.
More than 1,100 nominating letters were received nationwide for the award, which includes a $5,000 check. A news release announcing the award said it honors librarians for the valuable role they play in transforming lives through education.
"I couldn't believe it," Jamison said Monday, adding that she shares the credit with many in the district who have helped and supported her ideas. "I'm in heaven."
This is Jamison's second national award this year. The Pennsylvania Avenue School library, where she was the librarian in 2012-13, was named a 2013 Library of the Year by the American Association of School Librarians, or AASL, one of just three in the nation to receive the award.
An Upper Township resident, Jamison now works at the Atlantic City High School library, where she partners with librarian Veronica Gaskill, who first suggested she apply for a job in the district several years ago.
"She is just one of the people who has supported me," Jamison said Monday, citing school principals, teachers and administrators who have helped her make libraries an integral part of their schools. Jamison worked at the Chelsea Heights School, Martin Luther King Jr. Complex, and Pennsylvania Avenue School before moving to the high school this year. Over the summer she set up the library for the newly re-opened Brighton Avenue School.
Schools Superintendent Donna Haye, who in 2011 received national recognition from the AASL for spearheading the effort to upgrade district libraries, said Jamison is always pushing the limits of what a school library can be.
"She is a visionary," said Haye, who nominated Jamison for the award this year. "She is always looking for ways to make the library meaningful to the diverse student body we have today. We are so proud of her."
Jamison was previously nominated for the award by the late Anne Bastianelli-Lofaro, a language arts supervisor in the district who passed away this year. Haye said that after she saw all Jamison has been doing, she updated the application and nominated her again this year.
Among the library projects developed by Jamison are the Active Reading Project, which incorporated e-readers into student learning and book reporting; monthly community guest readers; Restore the Shore Through Literacy with Usborne Books, which brought in thousands of donated books to help children rebuild home libraries after Hurricane Sandy; and Summer Reading Buddies, in which Jamison collects gently used books and stuffed animals all year, then sends each child in preschool through grade three off on summer vacation with a reading buddy, at least one book, a library card application and a reading list. Jamison also worked collaboratively with teachers to match library resources with classroom lessons.
Jamison said she and Gaskill just returned from a library conference and are talking about how to incorporate social medial such as Twitter into library services to make the library even more accessible to students.
She said she was stunned by the award, and looks forward to meeting the other nine librarians, who represent public and college libraries. She hopes the award helps spread the message that a school library is a crucial part of a 21st century school.
"It really validates all the hard work," she said. "I want to make the library the nucleus of education."
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