Shawnee librarian named 2020 SKIE Award winner

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Carol Jones

Shawnee Middle School Librarian Carol Jones was named the 2020 SKIE Award winner for the southwest region of Oklahoma by the K20 Center at The University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Electric Cooperatives (OEC).  

The annual award is made possible by a $90,000 endowment from OEC and recognizes teachers or groups of educators from five regions across the state who use technology to transform their classroom instruction. 

According to Jones, she has been an educator for the last 13 years and is honored to receive this award and the $1,000 grant that accompanies it.  

"For this unit crafted as using the Guided Inquiry research design and built from the foundational theme of the Tulsa Race Massacre, it is truly validating," Jones said.  

The educator said through hard work, planning, preparation, rework and teamwork this unit was a success for students. 

In addition to being the SMS librarian, Jones also acts as the technology mentor for the building.  

Jones said this award recognizes her philosophy that technology paired with real-world stories grabs the attention of students and keeps them engaged. 

The librarian said she applied this philosophy to a unit entitled "Assumptions" she and other SMS educators taught students.  

"This unit started with the Tulsa Race Massacre and then broadened into a more general concept that 'Assumptions' are often the root of conflict in society," Jones said.  

When this idea was opened to students Jones said it allowed them to investigate other incidents where assumptions caused conflict and gave them the ability to dig in and apply that perspective to other areas.  

"That application is what we want for students to be able to do with any concepts they study," Jones said.  

The librarian said this win is beneficial for both her and the students because it shows that the process is vetted and students have truly learned about it.  

"Students evaluated themselves sometimes more critically than teachers would, but they also reflected feeling pride in what they accomplished," Jones said. "That feeling alone will allow them to become more confident as learners and that is my ultimate goal."  

Jones said it is this aspect of her job that she enjoys the most.  

"I most love seeing kids connect the dots. That might happen when they find a book that really resonates with them because of the characters or topic," Jones said. 

The educator said while she's grateful for the award, she did not come with the unit alone and it was a team effort when teaching and helping students learn.  

"I planned it together with our ELA Department Chair, Heather DeShazer. After a 3-day, intense inservice where we learned in-depth HOW to use Guided Inquiry Design (the research process), Heather and I shared the unit outline, timeline and our ideas with the greater group ELA and history teachers," Jones said.  

Jones said it was a group effort when teaching the unit to live and teaching it to students.  

"So, yes, I did work on this in the planning phases, yes, I spent great lengths of time writing about and recording a video of our and students' process and experiences, but I didn't do it solo," Jones said.  

Going forward Jones said she hopes to see students take the skills of this learning framework and apply it to other concepts.  

"As an educator, I see students becoming less independent as learners each year, so I hope that this model allows them to know how capable they are," Jones said.