Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
Woodward Elementary School Librarian, Connie Wise doesn't do what she does to win awards.
Instead, she makes lesson plans, coaches students on how to access quality information and underscores the teaching environment by partnering with teachers at her schools, for nothing more than the simple love of the job.
But awards are nice too.
The 20 year veteran Woodward Schools librarian was honored recently with the Oklahoma School Librarian Association, Polly Clarke Award.
Wise received her bachelors of science in elementary education from Fort Hays State University of Hays, Kan. She later attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University-Alva for her masters in reading and her library science certification, she said.
Wise's win is significant because it is the first time a small, rural librarian has won in a long time, breaking an 8-year trend in which Tulsa schools captured the coveted award, said Woodward Deputy Superintendent, Kyle Reynolds.
"We are very proud of Mrs. Wise and all her accomplishments," Reynolds said. "She continues to work tirelessly to be a resource for students and staff, finding new ways to make learning more meaningful and engaging. It is great to see her receive recognition on the state and national level."
The Polly Clarke Award for librarians is much like the Teacher of the Year Award, Wise said.
On Tuesday, while still in Oklahoma City at Encyclo-Media Conference, Wise found herself standing outside the conference, nearly without words to describe how she felt.
"I want to be sure that you understand that Oklahoma has librarians all over the state doing wonderful things with teachers and students even though we face constraints," she said. " I feel very honored to represent those librarians, especially those of us in rural areas."
The award is a memorial award in honor of Polly Elizabeth (Stotts) Clarke, who served a long and honorable career at Northeastern State College in Tahlequah from 1963 to 1984. Clarke died just two years after retiring, in 1986
According to Wise, to qualify for the award she had to submit a packet that included letters of recommendation as well as to be nominated in the first place.
"Mr. Tim Merchant nominated me and a teacher from Horace Mann, Patsy McIlvain wrote me a very nice letter," she said. "Patsy herself has won many awards."
In addition, Wise had to submit a mission statement in 250 words or less, what her goals for the library media program at her schools were.
In the last statement of her essay, Wise captures the essence of what, perhaps, it means to be a school librarian in these days of multiple media sources;
"I aim to provide teachers with timely information and literature resources along with technology assistance to meet classroom and library learning objectives while supporting the curriculum of the school in a welcoming environment. With the shared expertise between the classroom room teacher and the school librarian, ultimately, students become engaged in learning and develop a love of reading and literature."
Wise won a cash award, as well as a plaque. She will be invited to present a program at next year's Encyclo-Media Conference and will also present the next Polly Clarke Award to next year's recipient, according to the rules.
"I credit OKSL with helping me evolve as a librarian," Wise said. "Serving in different capacities allowed me opportunities to meet and develop friendships with other librarians.
Wise also credits Jo Milliard and Lilly Kendall who developed the district library program.
In addition, Wise, who was loathe to leave anyone unmentioned in her acceptance notes, sent a shout out to teacher Cheryl Lucas principal Sharon Yeager, who she said. were collaborators with her.
"I am also supported by my wonderful library assistants, Delilah Gay at Horace Mann, Carol Cramer at Highland Park and Cindy Glandon at Cedar Heights."