Washington state recently announced their teacher of the year and it’s not who you’d expect. Amid mass layoffs and growing reliance on paraprofessional and volunteer management of school libraries, Washington’s choice of a teacher librarian as an example of excellence in education is even more poignant. Mark Ray, the librarian in question, works at Skyview High School in Vancouver, WA. He’s led his school in tech literacy, pioneering “BYOD” a program that encourages students to bring their own devices and become familiar with a variety of platforms for accessing information and assistance.
His principal describes him as a “slayer of ignorance,” which is pretty core and he seems to represent a paragon of school librarianship in his classroom involvement and attention to validation in reference transactions. He’s a member of a dying breed, but for every Mark Ray, there’s an isolated school librarian being thrown out with the p-book bathwater. It’s imperative, especially in a tight-budget climate, for school librarians to embrace teaching information literacy and providing technology assistance. I think school librarians face much confusion over their role in education but have an opportunity to impact opinions about librarian roles in the future. I’m surprised and glad that Washington state has recognized a librarian as a truly innovative and adaptive member of their educational community.