The 'kindness team' at Dr. Michael Conti School - PS 5 receives AASL Roald Dahl Miss Honey Social Justice Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 03/27/2018


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)


CHICAGO – The project “Promoting Social Justice Awareness and a Culture of Kindness through Literature and Project-Based Learning” from the Dr. Michael Conti School - PS 5 in Jersey City, New Jersey, is the recipient of the 2018 American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Roald Dahl Miss Honey Social Justice Award. Sponsored by Penguin Random House, the Roald Dahl Award recognizes collaboration between school librarians and teachers in the instruction of social justice using school library resources.

The “Conti Kindness Team” includes Keungsuk Sexton, school librarian and literacy support teacher; Louis DeCarlo, early intervention counselor; Omar Alvarez, 7th- and 8th-grade English and language arts teacher; and Janice Alvarez, reading specialist. The team works to cultivate a school environment where students learn about and practice kindness, compassion, and understanding towards one another. The team combines anti-bullying activities with STEM-focused curriculum activities with social health and wellness across Pre-K to 8th grade. Their program also involves ongoing curation and acquisition of a comprehensive collection of books designed to get students thinking about social justice issues.

As Sexton explains in their award application: “Whether we are reading aloud ‘Each Kindness’ by Jacqueline Woodson to our kindergarteners; having our elementary students read Roald Dahl classics like ‘Matilda,’ ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ or ‘The BFG'; or our upper grade students engrossed in ‘Maniac Magee,’ ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ or  Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, having kids connect with characters in a book is just the first step to getting them to care about the way inequality and unfairness plays out in the real world. The next step is to have them feel empowered to try and do something about it."

“The ‘Culture of Kindness’ project received high ratings in virtually every category,” said Dennis LeLoup, awards committee chair. “The committee was impressed by the diversity of activities for the different grade levels, the range of library resources that were used, how the project continued throughout the entire school year, and the positive impact the project had on the community via fundraising.”

The AASL award winners will be honored at the AASL Awards Ceremony & President’s Program during the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. The ceremony will be held from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. 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.