District Teacher Librarian
Van Meter Community School District, IA
MA, School Library Studies, University of Northern Iowa, Summa Cum Laude, 2010; K–12 Reading Endorsement, Viterbo University, 2007
Connecting People Shorty Award
Photo by Annie Weaver
Since Shannon Miller, a former stay-at-home mother of three, assumed the Van Meter District, IA, teacher librarian position seven years ago, youth librarianship has become a livelier and more connected field. The hands-on K–12 librarian from this rural school district is an influential speaker, blogger (The Van Meter Library Voice), tweeter, and winner of the social media Shorty Award for Connecting People, along with many other ed tech honors. She is also informing future product development as a consultant to companies such as Rosen Publishing and Mackin Educational Resources.
“It’s hard to pin down one thing Shannon is doing that sets her apart because, in truth, I take so much inspiration from everything she is doing,” says nominator and 2013 LJ Mover & Shaker Matthew Winner. “Shannon seeks new tools, new approaches, and new projects for reaching her students and providing the very best learning environment possible.”
Miller sets an inspirational example for other teacher librarians with Skype and Google Hangout sessions that bring her students together with authors, educators, and other classrooms worldwide.
Standout events include a Skype virtual poetry summit and her enthusiastic participation in World Read Aloud Day and International Dot Day, inspired by Peter Reynolds’s book The Dot (Candlewick, 2003), about student creativity and affirmation. Sharon Creech and Michael Buckley are among the many authors who have virtually conferenced with her classes.
During a recent week, Miller had scheduled six student Skype sessions over the course of four days. “My favorite thing is to Skype with other classrooms and kids,” she says. “You see that relationship, and you see the students communicating and collaborating.”
“I always want to jump into a ton of different things; that’s just my personality,” Miller adds, noting that her undergraduate studies in art education help her bring creativity to her role as a teacher librarian.
Currently, she is involved in planning an expansion of her school library, which will relocate to the center of the building (see “The Heart of the School”). Last year, she moderated School Library Journal’s (SLJ) “Be the Change” free leadership webcast series. On the national conference circuit, Miller has lectured on topics from students’ role in preventing bullying to variations on how to be a connected school leader.
“She speaks and writes everywhere,” says SLJ NeverEnding Search blogger Joyce Valenza, one of five nominators from around the country. “Over the last three or four years, Shannon has done more than any other school librarian to represent our field.”