Emily Haendel and Renee Bailey Receive TASL Innovative Library Media Award (Middle School Division)

The winners of this year’s Innovative Library Media Award in the Middle School Division are Emily Haendel, librarian, and Renee Bailey, ELA teacher, from Halls Middle School in Knox County for their Diversity Club. Their vision for the club was to build relationships, community, and friendships. They wanted to build a culture of reading and help students become Global Citizens by promoting love, kindness, understanding, empathy, and tolerance through reading and sharing high-interest culturally diverse books and participating in culturally responsive activities and outreach. There were 6 cohorts of students across 6 lunch periods that read diverse books and discussed the tough topics in them. Students also promoted the books and club to others through social media, the library canvas page, and daily announcements.

Emily told us a little about background as an educator.

“I taught 6th grade ELA & science for a year before pursuing my library certification. I was a K-6 elementary school librarian for 2 years and have been a 6-8 middle school librarian for 2 years. Working with middle school students in the library setting has been a wonderful experience where every day is an exciting new adventure!” 

Renee shared her background in education as well.

“I have been a teacher for 15 years and my experience ranges from 1st grade through high school.  Middle school ELA has been my favorite and longest run.  I have just enough crazy in me to find 13-year-olds enjoyable.  I hold two bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, I am Nationally Board Certified in Adolescent Language Arts, and this summer I finished my librarian certification. When I grow up, I hope to be a “real librarian”, but for now I love spending my days with my 7th-grade kiddos and working with my fabulous HMS librarian Emily Haendel.”   

We asked Emily to describe their project.

“Our innovative collaborative idea involved using student choice and diverse MG titles to improve the school culture and reading culture for students. In-person students ate lunch in the library and engaged in listening, reading, discussing, and critical thinking around the tough topics presented in the high-interest books. Virtual students joined the in-person group on the library Apple TV and interacted with their peers through MS Teams. All students were given the opportunity to promote the books and ideas they have read to their peers through student-led projects and participation in “Diversity Day.””

Find out more about the project here.

Emily described the impact the project has had on students and the school.

“​The Diversity Club has helped build relationships, community, and friendships. We have worked towards becoming Global Citizens by promoting love, kindness, understanding, empathy, and tolerance through reading and sharing high-interest culturally diverse books and participating in culturally responsive activities and outreach. 
The program was well-received by students/faculty/ and the community.”

Congratulations Emily and Renee! What an amazing project! Follow Emily’s library on Twitter @HALLSMSREADS and on Instagram @hallsmsreads.


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