Kailua Elementary School Library is part of the Vision Tour planned by Nancy Everhart, president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). The librarian is Darren Tanaka, a graduate of our LIS Program. The Hawaii Association of School Librarians (HASL) selected his library as “outstanding”. Everhart will be visiting the library on September 23, 2010, as part of her showcase of exemplary school libraries across the nation. She will be participating in a special parent-community event at the school to advocate for the importance of school libraries in helping students become successful and independent learners in the 21st century.

Tanaka’s program was singled out for its innovative approaches to learning. As a proactive campus leader, Tanaka partners with classroom teachers and resource specialists to design and implement learning that connects with real-life applications. Most recently, he collaborated with a school team on creating aquaponics gardens that blended Hawaiian studies and scientific inquiry with critical thinking and writing skills. He also participates in the school’s Enrichment Program where students have been engaged in Lego robotics programming and design. Tanaka works with students and teachers from Preschool to Grade 6 in promoting information literacy and reading literacy.

Press Release:

AASL President to visit Kailua Elementary School KAILUA ELEMENTARY school library recognized as outstanding by state school library association

HONOLULU – As part of her tour of school libraries nationwide, Nancy Everhart, president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), will visit Kailua Elementary School. The Vision Tour is Everhart’s idea to showcase exemplary school libraries across the nation. Kailua Elementary school library program was chosen as “outstanding” by the HAWAII ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL LIBRARIANS (HASL). More information about the Vision Tour can be found at http://www.ala.org/aasl/l4lvisiontour.

On her tour, Everhart’s goal is to gain support for Learning4Life (L4L), AASL’s national plan for implementing the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs. By touring exemplary school libraries in each state, Everhart also hopes to raise the profile of what an outstanding school library can do for students, as well as the school and local community. She also hopes to create a roster of celebrity, wellknown
educators and organizations, and public figures as advocates for school librarians and their programs. Find out more about L4L at http://www.ala.org/aasl/learning4life.

The American Association of School Librarians, http://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.

Kailua Elementary School Library is under the direction of Darren Tanaka, a certified school librarian. Tanaka believes that a school librarian must be a proactive campus leader and directly involved in the school community in order to support the school’s vision and mission. This guiding philosophy leads to many different roles and responsibilities. The most important role he plays in the school is being both a partner and a leader in student learning.

Tanaka believes that learners need to actively apply skills and information to meaningful, real-life situations. He partners with classroom teachers to develop standards-based, integrated projects that blend content standards, information literacy, and technology. A recent example of this partnership brought a 4th grade teacher, the technology coordinator, and the school librarian together to construct several classroom aquaponics gardens. The gardens will blend Hawaiian studies and life science standards together with opportunities for scientific inquiry, math application, and language arts. Tanaka is also one of three team teachers for the school’s Enrichment Program, where students are engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities that include Lego robotics programming and design.

As a teacher, Tanaka instructs students and teachers from Preschool through Grade 6 in managing information, conducting research, and exploring literature. His lessons and activities regularly integrate the use of technology and a variety of media resources. A former middle school science teacher, Tanaka supports his fellow teachers in designing lessons and teaching science concepts.

As an information specialist, Tanaka continually introduces and evaluates information technology. This leads to a natural partnership with the school curriculum coordinator, Cindy Mahuka, and the technology coordinator, Greg Kent. Together, they examine new technology tools and train students and teachers to use them effectively. Tanaka also assists in managing several databases and various audio-visual tools.

As a program administrator, Tanaka is guided by AASL’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007). He believes that a school library should (1) provide equitable intellectual and physical access to the resources and tools required for learning, (2) provide a warm, stimulating, and safe environment, and (3) collaborate with others to provide instruction, learning strategies, and practice in using the essential learning skills needed in the 21st century. The physical layout of the school library accommodates a wide variety of activities ranging from student work areas, storytelling space, a 30-station computer lab, a digital media studio, large group meeting space, musical exploration, art exhibits, and seasonal book fairs.

Tanaka also performs other leadership roles to include serving on Kailua Elementary School’s Instructional Learning Team which collects and analyzes data on student achievement, the Coordination of Monthly Planning and School Schedules (COMPASS) group which ensures that school events run smoothly, and the teacher liaison for the Parent-Teacher-Student Association.

Beyond the Kailua Elementary School campus, Tanaka participates in the HASL professional organization and has served as the group’s webmaster from 2006 to 2010. He has contributed to HASL’s newsletter and presented highlights of his library program at a statewide professional conference. As a result of his recommendation of the Kailua Elementary School principal to HASL, Lanelle Hibbs received the 2010 HASL Outstanding Service Award for her commitment
to promoting the importance of school libraries, her unwaivering support of Kailua Elementary’s library, and her provision of opportunities for all faculty to serve as school leaders. A graduate of the University of Hawaii Manoa Library and Information Science program, Tanaka has given back by mentoring a library practicum student and partnering with Dr. Violet Harada, UHM, to conduct several class sessions.

Clearly, this school librarian doesn’t just circulate books. These teaching partnerships and leadership responsibilities are difficult to maintain and require a great amount of planning and communication. However, for Tanaka, the focal point of student achievement drives this process and makes the effort all worthwhile. And the school library is uniquely and essentially positioned to provide these services. Find out more information about Kailua Elementary
School‘s library program at http://kailuaeslibrary.hidoe.us


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The blog for the University of Hawaii Library & Information Science Alumni Group.

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