Millburn High School Librarian LaDawna Harrington received the 2012 Miss Rumphius Award from the New Jersey Center for the Book at the annual conference of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians in Long Branch, NJ on Saturday, December 1.
This award is named for the title character in a National Book Award-winning picture book by Barbara Cooney, who spreads seeds that make the world a more beautiful place, much as librarians do in spreading the seeds of learning. The award honors librarians, school media specialists, and educators who are stellar in spreading ideas and literacy.
According to the Association, the “Award is presented in recognition of years of exceptional leadership skills, innovative library media curriculum development, the design of literacy information programs, implementing a myriad of technological advances for collection circulation,” and for "significantly increasing student interest and participation that contribute to academic success". About Ms. Harrington they added, “You are an inspiration to your colleagues, to your students, and to us all.”
Ms. Harrington was also a presenter at this year’s conference, along with Glenwood Media Specialist, Shea Stansfield, speaking about their yearlong partnership. “Stories by the Young: Storytelling Across Grade Levels” is a project that weaves its thread through research projects at both the high school and elementary school levels. While the high school students do research on novels using digital research journals, the elementary students are doing their own investigations of fairytales, folktales and countries and culture, ultimately creating original tales based on their research. These tales are sent to the high school students to work into performance pieces and the project culminates with a storytelling festival of original stories written by the Glenwood elementary students. Harrington explains, “This program provides inspiration for spreading ideas and literacy to create lifelong connections to books and the powerful impact they have on the students’ lives.”
Harrington was nominated by MHS English teacher Jane Kade, who pointed out that. “LaDawna is a consummate professional whose love of learning and inquiry is infectious for her colleagues and her students. More importantly, she naturally collaborates and reaches out to the faculty in every discipline, making our teaching much more effective.” Dr. Keenan, Millburn High School Vice Principal, goes on to say, “In our “easy-button” world of “googling” it is often difficult to provide rich learning experiences that challenge our students through creative instruction and relevant learning tasks that enable our students to make an investment in their learning. Ms. Harrington does not shrink from this challenge as she partners with colleagues to integrate curriculum content.”
Another example of Ms. Harrington’s dedication is the Library 2.0 workshop she recently conducted for approximately 30 high school parents. The evening focused on the making parents aware of the resources available for their students in the library, and how to access them, including many new digital resources that have been provided thanks to the support of the Education Foundation of Millburn Short Hills. The presentation showed parents the types of services offered through the high school library including a website link that enables students to access library services 24/7. Parents left the evening feeling empowered to use the library resources, but more importantly, that all of these tools were manageable by their children.
Ms. Harrington noted that it is, “Great it is to work in this school district with the amazing support I receive from both the teachers and the administrators. What a great feeling to come to work every day knowing that what I do is being valued. Miss Rumphius is a picture book about planting seeds to bring beauty and I think that is what we are doing here in Millburn!”