Heather Horner, Skyline HS
Dallas ISD Librarian of the Year Heather Hornor has one main goal at Skyline High School: ensure students know where the library is and how it can help them.
Hornor has spent the past 18 years working in education, with the past seven of those as the Skyline librarian. As librarian at the city’s largest school, Hornor gets to positively impact a huge group of high school students.
“I am most passionate about preparing our kids to succeed in the world as adults,” Hornor said. “I want to make sure every student can self-educate; discern between reliable and unreliable news sources; and grow their critical thinking skills and have an inquiry mindset.”
Dallas ISD Librarian of the Year Heather Hornor has one main goal at Skyline High School: ensure students know where the library is and how it can help them. Hornor has spent the past 18 years working in education, with the past seven of those as the Skyline librarian. As librarian at the city’s largest school, Hornor gets to positively impact a huge group of high school students. “I am most passionate about preparing our kids to succeed in the world as adults,” Hornor said. “I want to make sure every student can self-educate; discern between reliable and unreliable news sources; and grow their critical thinking skills and have an inquiry mindset.”
Ms. Jennifer House, Stevens Park Elementary School
Second-graders visiting the library at Stevens Park Elementary School one morning this week sounded quite disappointed that they were allowed to check out a book only one more time before the school year ends. Their attitude is a testament to librarian Jennifer House, who has been named Dallas ISD’s 2015 Librarian of the Year.
The bright, well-organized space welcomes students to explore. Stuffed animals on many of the bookshelves are three-dimensional depictions of book characters, beckoning students to take closer looks at the words that bring them to life. House has also incorporated technology into lessons after becoming Google Educator Certified and graduating from the first Digital Fluency Camp from Region 10.
Some of the lessons House teaches are tied into annual observances as a way to celebrate diversity and literacy. May is Asian American History Month, so one morning this week, House read Carlos Digs to China to the students. In the book, Carlos enjoys a meal at a Chinese restaurant and decides to dig a hole to make his way to China so he can sample more of that country’s cuisine – providing a different look into another culture.
While still in high school, House visited a Montessori school in Dallas. “That day I decided I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. The decision to become an educator is one that has stuck.
She graduated from Baylor University in 1977 with an education certificate, and began teaching in January 1978 around the time Dallas ISD began offering full-day kindergarten. Her first job in the district was at John W. Carpenter Elementary School. In 1986, she began teaching kindergarten at Stevens Park, later became the school’s Reading Coach and then its librarian more than 10 years ago. Along the way, she learned Spanish to better communicate with students and to serve as an ESL teacher.
“It’s like home to me, and I didn’t feel a need to go somewhere else,” House said of Stevens Park. “I want to see them grow up. There are children in this school now – I taught their parents in kindergarten.” The ability to impact a family across generations has been a rewarding experience, and students returning to visit often seek her out.
Her favorite books include those written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, particularly the series featuring fictional FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast.
Jackie Flores, assistant principal at Stevens Park, nominated House for the Librarian of the Year honor.
“She exemplifies outstanding service in the areas of her profession, professional growth and improvement of library services,” Flores wrote in the nomination letter. “Her passion and love for literacy is evident in everything that she does.”
2015 D Magazine, Librarian of the Year:
Lisa Mead, Frank ES
Stuffed bunnies, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Mother Goose, Dora the Explorer and Arthur are among the notable characters that peer out from almost every bookshelf in the library at Anne Frank Elementary School.
It’s testing week at the north Dallas school and, for the moment, the library is quiet. Outside the glass door, young students march in single file through the hallway as they take a breather from the STAAR exams. Inside, Librarian Lisa Mead is waiting for the students to return.
Talking with Mead about her classroom experience and her passion for teaching, it’s not hard to see why she was recently named the Big D Reads Librarian of the Year. An 11-year veteran of the Anne Frank Elementary faculty, Mead spent the first seven years as a classroom teacher, serving as grade level chair, a member of the Campus Instructional Leadership Team, and being named the campus’ Teacher of the Year.
“I still see myself as a teacher,” Mead said. “The biggest difference (as a librarian) is I get to teach all the students in the school. That’s my favorite thing about being a librarian; I get to positively impact the education of all the kids.”
Colleagues have high praise for Mead, describing her as passionate, committed, creative, and resourceful. In their statements of support for Mead’s Librarian of the Year nomination, teachers credit her for turning around the use of the school’s library, making it a popular gathering spot for students.
During the mornings, Mead opens the library doors at 7:15 a.m. and welcomes in students to enjoy free reading time, finish up homework, or work on projects. Throughout the rest of the day, Mead spends her time teaching library skills, collaborating with teachers, and singlehandedly managing a facility that serves 1,200 students and boasts a monthly circulation of more than 7,000 books.
Mead is especially passionate about the importance of teaching students how to use technology to find their own answers to questions. She makes sure they master research skills that will serve them throughout their school career.
“A librarian’s job is to instill a lifelong love of learning,” Mead said. “I want them to be comfortable in the library, to have ownership of the library so they learn to love to read and will continue to go to the library whenever they’re curious or just for fun.”
Principal Jonnice Legum-Berns describes Mead as amazing.
“The learning environment she has created for our students is well-organized, visually stimulating and, most importantly, welcoming,” she said.
Legum-Berns said that, under Mead’s stewardship, the Anne Frank library is a focal point enlivened by Mead’s enthusiasm, leadership, and innovation.
“Mrs. Mead is one of those gentle giants who positively impacts so many lives while instilling a love for reading and a thirst for learning,” Legum-Berns said. “I cannot think of a better candidate so deserving of representing Dallas ISD as Librarian of the Year.”
2014 Dallas ISD Librarian of the Year:
Dr. Rosenid Hernandez Badia, Franklin MS
Dr. Rosenid Hernández Badía wakes up each day eager to go to work as librarian at Dallas ISD’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School, driven to help as many people as she can. It’s working. When she drives into the parking lot at Franklin, often there are students waiting for her so they can start their day in the library.
She was recently selected as Dallas ISD’s 2013-2014 Librarian of the Year.
“I love every day. My alarm clock goes off and I’m like, ‘yeah!’ It’s beautiful to feel that way,” Badía said. “When you’re comfortable, and you’re going to do your best, you’re going to reach as many people as possible.”
And that has been her mode of operating the library – that everyone is welcome and that there is something for everyone there including parents, staff and the community. She knows how crucial learning is for everyone. “I’ve been exposed to the importance of going to school,” she said. “That education is the key to success.”
Badía opens her library to everyone by hosting sessions like resumé-writing and job interviewing skills for parents and the community. “In here, I provide so many opportunities for parents to engage in their children’s education, and I do it on purpose,” she said.
She helps teachers find additional resources to supplement their lessons. Classes meet regularly in the library, which is divided into several work areas so that varied activities can happen simultaneously.
Technology is a big part of the experience in Franklin’s library. Thirty touch-screen computers and laptops, and a fleet of iPads are used continually. Students respond to the use of technology and sometimes don’t realize they are learning and reading.
When she’s confronted with a student who declares he doesn’t like to read, she will find out what interests him and then provide graphic novels, audio books or other materials on the subject. Before he knows it, the student is engaged and becomes a fan of the library. “I want to encourage and help advocate for the library and motivate everybody who goes to the library,” she said. “If you cannot go to the library, it can go to you.”
Seeing her role as helping create lifelong learners, Badía shows students how to find information using updated and trustable resources. She knew this component was working when a student began working on a project and accessed a database. “It means the little piece I’m putting in, it’s working,” she said. “They can find the true and real stuff. It’s very important for them to understand that.”
Her library has also left the building on occasion. She enlisted students to participate in Hillcrest High School’s homecoming parade last fall by dressing in costume to represent their favorite books or subjects. For the Earth Day Dallas celebration in Fair Park, students dressed as animals and recited poems they wrote.
During the week she learned she was Librarian of the Year, Badía had a special event for the top readers in the school’s Readers are Leaders program. A professional artist helped them create artwork to take home so that students could remember their success for many years to come.
Badía came to Dallas ISD in 2006 from Puerto Rico. She was a science teacher at J.L. Long Middle School for one year, served as librarian for five years at Skyline High School and has been at Franklin the past two years.
Teaching is in her blood. Her father worked as a teacher, and she was an educator for 11 years in Puerto Rico before coming to Dallas. Not all of her teaching has been indoors, though, as she has also been a scuba diving instructor.