Congratulations to our Awesome Recipients of the NH School Library Media Awards

The 2014 NH School Library Media Association awards were presented at last weekend’s conference. For those of you who couldn’t make it, I’ve included the names of the recipients and the words of praise that were spoken about each. What a talented group of professionals we have in this state. I consider myself lucky to work with such amazing people.

Penny Avery–paraprofessional

This paraprofessional is a treasure. Just ask her principal who is her number one fan and cheerleader. “I marvel daily at the expertise and conscientiousness she brings to her job,” her principal wrote. In their close-knit school of just over 300 students, this para, her principal says, “is passionate about her work. The students and staff adore her.”

Whether she is running book fairs, repairing books, or enlisting students to help redecorate the library, this para has gone many extra miles to bring a passion for reading to Cutler Elementary School. And for that, we are proud to give this year’s paraprofessional award to Penny Avery.

Helen Burnham–Service Award

This year’s recipient of the NHSLMA Service Award has served our profession and organization in an exemplary manner. She has served in the capacity of Vice President, President, and as Co-Chair of this very conference. She has worked tirelessly on a variety of committees and is always willing to tackle any task. She is passionate about high quality librarianship. She tirelessly promotes reading and information literacy in her role as librarian at Lincoln Street School, and she is currently sharing her expertise and passion with a future generation of librarians as an adjunct professor at Plymouth State University. She has been a mentor and role model for me and so many others. I am honored to be able to present the NHSLMA Service Award to Helen Burnham.

Bobbi Lee Slossar–Impact Award

Let’s face it, as much as we love the smell of a book and the feel of it in our hands, more and more of what we do is immersed in the digital world. It can be pretty overwhelming at times, but luckily there is someone who is always there with good advice and a quick answer. Whether it’s figuring out which tablet will best suit our needs or learning how we can get the most out of EBSCO and NoveList, this librarian always seems to be one step ahead of us–happy to show the way with good advice right when we need it. I am thankful every day that Bobbi Lee Slossar is such an incredible resource for school librarians in New Hampshire and I am proud to honor her with this year’s Impact Award.

Jill Canillas-Daley–Outstanding Special Recognition

Although this librarian is only paid for a four-day week, she accomplishes more than most people can in seven days. Whether she is baking treats for one of her “Apps for Apps” technology workshops, gathering students for a weekly after school book club, or pulling together teachers from across the school to unify around a common theme, she is always working to create excitement for learning. Her principal says, “She has brought life and energy to the position. The library is truly the heartbeat of the school.” For this and so much more, Jill Canillas-Daley deserves our special recognition.

Rachel Roper–Outstanding Special Recognition

This librarian will do just about anything to get the right book into the hands of her students. She collaborates with neighboring schools and public libraries to bring in authors, wrote a grant to purchase a self-checkout system to empower her students, and gives of her own time over the summer to open the doors of her library. Her staff depends on her as the go-to technology person and her 8th graders count on her to help each of them build a special page for their yearbook. Her principal says that she demonstrates “caring, respect and a sense of fun,” in all of her interactions, and so we wish to honor Rachel Roper with a special recognition certificate.

Bonnie Williams–Outstanding Special Recognition

Our last special recognition finalist tried to talk us out of giving her an award, but the awards committee and her principal begged to differ. In five years, she has transformed an uninviting, underutilized library into a thriving place filled with staff and students. She has brought in popular authors via webcast, forged partnerships with her town’s public library, kept her staff up to speed on the latest technology, and instilled research skills and habits in her students that her principal describes as “thrilling.” So who is this young upstart who is setting the world on fire? It is Bonnie Williams, who began her career as a librarian in 1967 and who will be retiring at the end of the school year. Way to go out in a blaze of glory, Bonnie. We are happy to honor all that you have done.

Rachel Hopkins—Outstanding School Library Media Specialist

The winner of this year’s outstanding school library media specialist award says, “I was born to be a librarian. While other kids played teacher, I played librarian and checked out books to my sisters. It may sound corny, but I love my job and I am very thankful for all of the individuals that have played a role in my professional development.”

Her dedication to her profession is evident. In just three years, she has taken her school of 1,400 students by storm. She has chaired her school’s NEASC reaccreditation committee, worked with 8th and 9th grade teachers to restructure the summer reading program, developed an online research skills curriculum for all freshman, and delivered powerful professional development opportunities to her faculty. Her principal raves, “I am proud to have her as a member of my staff and I look forward to seeing what new and exciting things are on the horizon for Salem High School because of her dedication to education.”

It is my honor to present this year’s Outstanding School Library Media Specialist award to Rachel Hopkins.

Sara Zoe Patterson– Edies School Librarian of the Year
Since she was a paraprofessional and a student in library school, Sara Zoe Patterson has been rocking the worlds of librarians around the state with her cutting-edge approach to technology. At the state level, she has put in countless hours on the NHSLMA board planning conferences, modernizing their web presence and advocating for young readers as a member of the Great Stone Face committee.  Her principal credits her alone with creating a community of learners by making their library and technology accessible to all. iPads, Nooks, Kindles, skyrocketing NECAP scores are all credited to this hardworking and innovative school librarian.

The NHSLMA Awards Chair, Kathy Pearce, is from Oyster River High School.

For more information, visit

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