Megan Hartley and Beth Thomas, school librarians at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, have been named recipients of the 2016 Jean E. Harris Progressive School Library Media Program award, presented by the New Jersey Association of School Librarians recognizing “a New Jersey school library media specialist currently working in a public, private or parochial school who has demonstrated innovative ideas to enhance the lifelong learning skills of students.”

The middle school's library, now known as the Library Learning Commons, has greatly benefited from more than $70,000 in Summit Educational Foundation grants, which Hartley and Thomas credit for the facility's evolution that has included furnishing the space with flexible furniture that facilitates collaboration, creating a mobile makerspace so students can experiment and tinker in a low-stress environment, running a coding club, and supporting literacy through author visits and a subscription to Learning Ally.

The pair have focused on teaching students information literacy skills, which demonstrate how to effectively search for, use, and evaluate information from credible resources. They have also exposed students to a variety of extracurricular experiences, including an 'Hour of Code' event for the past three years, the school's first NJ Makers Day -- where 300 students were able to work with high and low tech maker materials -- and brought in Google Expeditions so 400 students and their teachers could experience virtual field trips with Google Cardboard.

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