Pilot Mountain Elementary School wins ALA school library award for program about cultural and historic preservation

For Immediate Release
Wed, 06/07/2017


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office



CHICAGO — Pilot Mountain Elementary School, a public school in Pilot Mountain, N.C., has been recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) for Everybody Has a Story, a library program that taught third-graders about cultural and historic preservation both locally and globally.

As the recipient of ALA’s 2017 Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming, the school’s library will receive $5,000.

The yearlong program integrated multiple activities — involving language, arts, dance, music, food traditions and practical skills — to teach students about cultural traditions at home and around the world. Over the year, students:

  • Learned about “Marie,” the last known speaker of the Wukchumni language, and explored how languages can be threatened with extinction and how people work to keep their languages alive;
  • Practiced Irish folk dancing steps and comparing them with clogging, a local North Carolina folk dance, and learned how local artists are keeping our own musical traditions alive;
  • Used the book “What the World Eats” by Peter Menzel to explore U.S. food traditions and those of other countries; and
  • Explored how the town of Pilot Mountain has changed over time through historic photos, maps, a talk with a local historian, and a tour of local historic landmarks. Students then used what they learned to create their own versions of historic Pilot Mountain using Minecraft.

ALA will offer a free webinar with the creators of the award-winning program in fall 2017. More information and a registration link will be available on the Programming Librarian website in the coming months. To receive an announcement when registration opens, please sign up for the Programming Librarian e-newsletter.

“My hope is that students will look at people for their story and not their stereotype, think about their community in new ways, be good stewards of their culture and their history, and learn more about their town as well as the world,” said Amy Harpe, the school’s media specialist and the program’s lead creator.

The Jaffarian Award selection committee commended Harpe and her partners for creating a program that is replicable, involved community members, and incorporates technology.

“Everybody Has a Story is an example of the kind of exemplary school library program that we all strive to create, and we applaud Pilot Mountain Elementary School for taking on this yearlong endeavor to help their students be part of a global learning community,” said committee chair Mona Batchelor.

Named after the late Sara Jaffarian, a school librarian and longtime ALA member, ALA’s Jaffarian Award was established in 2006 to recognize and promote excellence in humanities programming in elementary and middle school libraries. It is presented annually by the ALA Public Programs Office in cooperation with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). The award is selected annually by a committee comprising members of the ALA Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee (PCPAC), AASL and the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC).

Funding for the Jaffarian Award is provided by ALA’s Cultural Communities Fund (CCF). In 2003, a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities kick-started a campaign to secure the future of libraries as cultural destinations within the community. Since then, CCF has grown to more than $1.9 million, serving libraries as they serve their communities through the highest quality arts and humanities programs. To contribute to CCF, visit www.ala.org/ccf.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

About the ALA Public Programs Office

The ALA Public Programs Office promotes programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. The office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities to help libraries serve their communities as cultural hubs and centers of lifelong learning. For programming ideas, professional development and grant opportunities, and free, on-demand online courses, visit www.ProgrammingLibrarian.org.

About the American Association of School Librarians

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


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