Dr. April Grace, superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools, is one of only seven school administrators from across the nation chosen to serve on a School Leader Collaborative, the American Association of School Librarians announced recently.

The "AASL School Leader Collaborative: Administrators & School Librarians Transforming Teaching and Learning" is a two-year initiative that aims to strengthen AASL's collaboration with school administrators. This initiative champions the school librarian's integral role in teaching and learning. Grace was nominated for the collaborative by Cherity Pennington, SPS district communications and library services coordinator, for the superintendent's efforts in prioritizing library services across the school district.

Dr. Grace joins six other school administrators from Alaska, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and California to serve as active ambassadors for school libraries.

"We had an outstanding field of candidates for the AASL School Leader Collaborative," said AASL President Mary Keeling.

"The individuals we selected have demonstrated strong support for school libraries and school librarians through their commitment to full staffing, budgets for materials, and integration of the school library throughout the school and district. Our school leaders come from all over the United States and represent small, large, rural and urban districts. Several are poised to lead at the state and national level, and one has already distinguished herself as a state-level advocate for school libraries."

"My 30 years of service in education have taught me the value of a strong school library program," said Dr. Grace.

"In my lifetime, I have watched school libraries evolve from quiet places for reading and research into spaces that include not just reading or research materials but opportunities in technology and project based learning. Libraries are fundamental to the development of engaged readers and learners."

Last spring, Dr. Grace was named the recipient of the Oklahoma School Librarians Administrator Award, a recognition given to only one administrator in the state each year. 

The administrators selected for the collaborative and AASL leaders will convene to garner advocacy for school librarians that can be implemented at building, district, state and national levels. Administrators will provide feedback, messaging and advice on strategies to be taken by AASL. This sustained dialogue will deepen understanding of the school librarian's and administrator's powerful roles for impacting teaching, learning and school culture, Keeling said.

OverDrive Education has provided support for the initiative.