Hawthorne Elementary School Wins ALA’s 2023 Jaffarian Award for Growing Readers, Growing Leaders Program

For Immediate Release
Mon, 06/05/2023


Hannah Arata

Communications Specialist

Public Programs Office

American Library Association


CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) has awarded its 2023 Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award to Hawthorne Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky for the Growing Readers, Growing Leaders program.

The $5,000 Jaffarian Award, supported by ALA’s Cultural Communities Fund, recognizes excellence in humanities programming in school libraries that serve grades K-8.

Selected from a record-breaking number of proposals, Hawthorne Elementary School’s program is preparing students to be “Bi-literate, Bi-Cultural, and Bi-Lingual” as it transitions into a Spanish Immersion Magnet elementary school.

Using the Guided Inquiry Design framework, the Growing Readers, Growing Leaders program led students through an eight-stage process to embrace the transition in the learning environment. The program helped to create a cultural awareness of Hispanic/Latinx community members and to foster the cultural competence and unity of all students by asking: What unites us?

Students identified strengths and areas for improvement in the Spanish Immersion School and interviewed key stakeholders (Hispanic/Latinx teachers, staff and parents) to find commonalities in life experiences between interviewees. Recordings of the interviews and posters illustrating common themes were displayed during the school’s Hispanic Heritage celebration.

Using the findings from interviews, students continued to collaborate to identify commonalities while discovering stories of inequity, finding that nearly 200 students in the school don’t have access to books at home. In response, students developed a proposal to community leaders asking to purchase 15 books for the students identified.

“The program engaged students in reflecting on how to make our Spanish Immersion program not just a place where students learn another language, but also a school that unites amidst our commonalities and differences to support each other in overcoming challenges that impact student learning,” said Hawthorne’s school librarian, Jamey Herdelin.

This year’s Jaffarian Award Committee was chaired by Blake Hopper, school librarian, Tazewell-New Tazewell (Tenn.) Primary School. Additional members included Anita Cellucci, library teacher, Westborough (Mass.) High School; Carla Larsen, retired elementary school library media specialist, South Washington County Schools, Minn.; and Joe Zappitello, director, Harbor-Topky Public Library, Ashtabula, Ohio.

“The Award Committee was impressed by the many positive takeaways from this project,” said Hopper. “One stellar aspect of this initiative was the extensive collaboration involved. How invaluable it was for students to make these diverse connections throughout their school and the larger community.”

The Jaffarian Award is administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office in cooperation with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

Applications for the 2024 award will open in February 2024. Application information, award guidelines and a list of previous winners are available at www.ala.org/jaffarian.

To stay up to date on award and grant offerings from ALA’s Public Programs Office, sign up for ALA’s Programming Librarian newsletter.

About the ALA Public Programs Office

The ALA Public Programs Office empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types. Learn more at www.ala.org/ppo.

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.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit www.ala.org.