Shirley Simmons receives AASL Distinguished School Administrator Award

For Immediate Release
Mon, 03/18/2019


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)


CHICAGO – Shirley Simmons, assistant superintendent of educational services for Norman (Oklahoma) Public Schools, is the recipient of the 2019 American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Distinguished School Administrator Award. Sponsored by ProQuest, the $2,000 award recognizes and 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.

When Norman Public Schools began implementing Guided Inquiry Design (GID) as a means to provide students with personalized learning as well as learner voice and choice in a device-rich environment, Simmons began with the district's school librarians. She coordinated a book study of the process with school librarians and curriculum coordinators, introduced the concept to the principals, and then spearheaded the delivery during two 3-day GID institutes for librarians, gifted resource coordinators, and instructional coaches led by a national trainer. 

Simmons has made it possible for all school librarians to attend subsequent trainings with their educator teams by providing funds for training as well as for substitutes. Hundreds of educators have been trained alongside their school librarian. By ensuring their constant presence, Simmons gives school librarians the authority and legitimacy to collaborate and co-teach with classroom educators. 

"Dr. Simmons changed the culture of my library and our school," wrote Teresa Lansford in her letter of support. "Administrators across the district were trained in the importance of student­-led questioning and the emphasis of voice and choice in student learning through the Guided Inquiry process. With Dr. Simmons' support, learners' use of library resources has become more authentic and meaningful to all regardless of ability level. Learners that once shut down the moment they entered the library have taken ownership of their learning and eagerly come to pursue information that they need to create their own knowledge."

"The committee was very impressed with how Dr. Simmons’ ‘unique, unfailing support has elevated school libraries and school librarians to the center of teaching and learning,'" said Susan Hess, award committee chair. "From the beginning, Dr. Simmons visited schools on a regular basis to meet librarians to learn about the value of school libraries and the vital role they play in the Norman Public Schools. She considers school librarians as integral to the school community and she is dedicated to finding funding to allow the district to add more support staff and increase material budgets for learners."

The AASL award winners will be honored at the AASL Awards Ceremony during the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 22. All are welcome to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers during this recognition event.

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