TASLCon2019 Wrap-Up

Written by Vicki Winstead

The 28th annual TASL Conference “Dare to Imagine: Make it Happen!” was a whirlwind of two and a half days of fun and excitement!  It was a pleasure to see almost 350 school librarians gather in Murfreesboro to learn, share and grow as professionals. I hope everyone left the conference feeling energized and full of new ideas to help achieve your vision for your school library.  

TASLCon Precon
TASL Conference attendees learn how to put the AASL standards into action, author Derrick Barnes with a TASL fan, and 2020 SE-YA authors Greg Howard, Jamie Sumner, Andrew Maraniss and Sharon Cameron help kick off #seya2020 at the author reveal.

Our conference started off strong with some fantastic preconference sessions.  Thanks to Karen Haggard and her team for the informative session, “The New AASL Standards in Action”.  The offsite SE-YA 2020 Kickoff generated excitement for the March 12-14, 2020 event, and featured speaker, Derrick Barnes, shared how his book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, changed his life and career.

TASLCon sponsors
A few TASLCon2019 vendors.

A special thank you to all of our vendors!  Your support means so much to TASL. We are also so thankful for our 2019 Conference sponsors, Bound to Stay Bound (Tri-Star sponsor), EBSCO (Two-Star sponsor) and State Standards Publishing (Friend sponsor).  I hope everyone enjoyed the Sunday night vendor reception. It’s always a fun time to meet our vendors, enjoy some free food and catch up with friends. Hip Hues was also on hand with our conference t-shirts.  All proceeds from our t-shirt sales go to our TASL Scholarship Fund.

TASLCon sessions
Some of our amazing session presenters, including best-seller Tennessee authors and good friends, Jeff Zentner and Natalie Lloyd.

Monday morning started out strong with our concurrent sessions.  With forty-six sessions offered on Monday, there were many great things to choose from.  There were also two dedicated times for everyone to visit the exhibit hall to meet our vendors and get books signed by our featured authors.  And don’t forget the door prize drawings! We had a record number of door prizes donated this year thanks to our wonderful vendors!

TASL Conference attendees taking a much needed break from learning in between sessions, Past President Blake Hopper and Keynote Speaker Tiffany Whitehead, and more fun in the vendor hall.

At our annual business meeting and keynote luncheon, we heard updates from our affiliates TEL, TLA, Tenn-Share and AASL.  We voted on the 2020 slate of officers and recognized our past presidents. We then welcomed keynote speaker, Tiffany Whitehead, to the podium for an inspiring presentation on the importance of building strong relationships and the impact it has on everything we do.

VSBA Awards banquet
One of our many, amazing award winners; Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn, with Miss Tennessee, Briana Mason; VSBA chair, Scot Smith with the winner of the 2018-19 VSBA winner of the Middle School division, Tennessee author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, for The War That Saved My Life.

Our annual VSBA Awards Banquet was held on Monday evening.  Awards Co-Chairs Krista Grace and Louanne Nicely recognized the recipients of the TASL awards.  VSBA Chair Scot Smith shared the VSBA winners from last year. We then heard fantastic speeches from three of the award winning authors (and one illustrator!).  We were honored to welcome two very special guests to this year’s banquet – Miss Tennessee, Briana Mason and Commissioner Penny Schwinn. Both shared inspiring stories of their love of books, reading and libraries.

TASLCon Tuesday
Author Robert Beatty gives the closing keynote address on Tuesday, and authors Julian Winters and Sheba Karim.

Tuesday morning brought twelve more concurrent sessions to choose from and an incredible closing keynote address with award-winning author of the Serafina and the Black Cloak series, Robert Beatty.  Beatty shared his journey into writing for young readers and the methods he has found for luring young minds into the world of imagination.

I want to extend my thanks to everyone who served on the 2019 conference committee and to all the volunteers for lending a hand.  Planning a conference of this size is a team effort and I am grateful to all who pitched in! Mark your calendars now for the 2020 TASL Conference- “Turn the Page: Envisioning a New Chapter for TN School Libraries”, which will be back at the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro, September 27 – 29.  See you next year!

TASLCon2020 logo
TASLCon2020 logo
Vicki Winstead is the librarian at Vance Middle School in Bristol, TN and the current President-Elect of TASL.  She currently serves on her school’s leadership team, is a Teacher Ambassador for Bristol Tennessee City Schools and was recently selected as a Lead Teacher for the Niswonger Foundation’s RURAL Life program.



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