Mat McRae receives AASL Distinguished School Administrators Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/10/2012

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Jennifer Habley

CHICAGO – Mat McRae, principal of Swan Valley high school in Saginaw, Mich., is the 2012 recipient of the American Association of School Librarian’s (AASL) Distinguished School Administrators Award. McRae was nominated by school librarian Kay Wejrowski.

Faced with the potential elimination of the Swan Valley high school library program as a way to overcome budget shortfalls, Principal Mat McRae stood before the superintendent and school board and stated, “I cannot run this school without our library.” Believing that the school library program is the answer to most of the issues, questions, dilemmas, technology and educational problems faced by public schools; McRae further vowed that as long as he was principal, there would be no cuts to the library program.  Instead, McRae made other adjustments to the budget, even earmarking money from his administrative funds to maintain library spending.

“Mat McRae believes that true learning is inter-threaded through the school library and that the doors of the library should always be open and welcoming,” read Wejrowski’s nomination. “He has a clear understanding of what an exemplary school looks like and believes that an effective school library program should be the core of the school.  He believes that the library should be the center of the school, with all activities and educational programming circulating in and out of a great library resource center.”

The school library program at Swan Valley high school has been transformed since McRae took over as principal nearly a decade ago.  Former students and staff members once described the old library as an echoing “tomb” that no one entered. Today, the library is alive with activity, as McRae encourages the entire staff and student body to become involved in library programs. Students have taken McRae’s encouragement to heart, using the library as a place for homework and studying, peer tutoring, collaborative teamwork and independent research.  Students also run the library, working behind the circulation desk to check out books, helping other students find books to read and assisting teachers with projects.

“Mat McRae, the recipient of this award, is a terrific example of an administrator who supports the library because the library supports his district's students,” said Doug Johnson, award committee chair. “Only by working together on common goals such as literacy, will both administrators and librarians be successful.”

McRae and other AASL award winners will be honored at AASL's Awards Luncheon during ALA's 2012 Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif. The luncheon will be held Monday, June 25. Carmen Agra Deedy, best-selling author and ardent supporter of libraries, will be at the ceremony courtesy of Peachtree Publishing.  Ticket information can be found on the AASL website at http://www.ala.org/aasl/annual

Sponsored by ProQuest Company, the $2,000 award honors a school administrator who has made worthy contributions to the operations of an exemplary school library and to advancing the role of the school library in the educational program.

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.