Scholarship Recipients – FY15

Articles from recipients of scholarships awarded in FY15 (7/1/14-6/30/15)
Rozzie Obando

Thanks to scholarships from Metronet and ITEM I had the wonderful opportunity this past week to attend the 2015 American Library Association (ALA) conference in San Francisco and represent school library media specialists of Minnesota at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Affiliate Assembly.

It is always a powerful experience to be in the presence of so many great minds and surrounded by people with common purposes; this year was no exception. The theme for the conference was “Transforming Our Libraries, Ourselves,” with an opening general session featuring Roberta A. Kaplan, and, in addition to the Supreme Court Ruling on same sex marriage on Friday, the positive emotions and excitement were very high. At the AASL Affiliate Assemblies on Friday and Sunday I was able to discuss concerns of school libraries across the nation and had the privilege of voting on awards that would be given by AASL to constituents who have taken action that resulted in furthering, and or supporting the work & mission of school libraries.

Taking action was very much an overarching theme this week and, as professionals who take direct action in selecting materials for students, one of the highlight of the conference for me was attending the GraphiCon Discussion Forum titled Diversity in Comics. In the long history of comics, there has never been such a wide explosion of diverse characters in comics and graphic novels as there is today. While there was some concern by authors that this is just a fad that publishers will discontinue if profits fade, there was overwhelming support by readers and librarians to encouraging authors and publishers to continue to include characters in comics that represent all of their readers – not just the straight, white majority. A representative from We Need Diverse Books ( hosted the multifaceted panel of authors whose books include characters with diverse backgrounds. Categories discussed were gender in comics, LGTB storylines and characters, culturally diverse protagonists, and characters with disabilities. If you are looking to increase the diversity in your graphic novel collection and enhance the experience of your readers be sure to explore the following authors who spoke on the three panels during the day:

Tony Cliff (Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant)
Tania Del Rio (Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty)
Brenden Fletcher (Batgirl, Gotham Academy)
Jennifer L. Holm (Babymouse, Sunny Side Up)
Trina Robbins (From Girls to Girlz, Pretty in Ink)
Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf, Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever)
Noelle Stevenson (Nimona, Lumberjanes)
Alex Woolfson (The Young Protectors, Artifice)
Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer, Skim)
Becky Cloonan (Gotham Academy)
Gene Yang (American Born Chinese, The Shadow Hero)
Ethan Young (Nanjing)
Jeremy Whitley (Princeless)

Other conference highlights included the Michael L. Printz Award Winner Panel ( presented by YALSA & Booklist, and learning about “hackerspaces” ( during the session Innovative Spaces: Creating Dynamic Library/Learning Environments. Lastly, I encouraging you to check out AASL’s Best Apps and Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2015 which were revealed at the conference:

Best Websites
Best Apps

Thank you for this opportunity!
Robin Weber

ISTE 2015 is in the books. With twenty thousand attendees and thousands of opportunities to learn, the experience was little daunting. With the help of previous attendees, I narrowed my focus and set my sights on sessions that would provide the best benefit for my students and collaboration with my peers.

One of the predominant themes was going global. How do we interact on a larger scale? Skype goes global by allowing students to interact with experts, authors and classrooms. Take a virtual tour, learn from a snake expert. Do a mystery Skype and ask questions to guess your location.

Geoguesser ( is web based and allows you to go anywhere in the world. Looking at pictures on google maps, you place a pin where you think the location is. You earn points and badges for locations. You can play individually or as a group. Might be a way to interact with other classes.

Tour Builder ( allows you to create a map that incorporates text descriptions you write and allows you to upload photos. You can use this tool to describe locations in a story, provide historical information or document a field trip.

Global Read Aloud ( ) begins on October 5th and ends November 13th. There are a variety of books to read with students and share with classrooms around the world. A great opportunity to share story telling a perspectives with students around the world.

Bring literature circles into the the tech realm. Dr. Cavanaugh developed resources to incorporate technology into literature circle roles. Resources can be found at

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality has come a long way and has been incorporated into everything from reading books (making them more interactive) to explaining chemistry. Darqi provides blocks that you can order or make from paper copies ( to make chemistry more interactive. has apps for anatomy, chemistry, geometry, plants, solar system and storytelling. You can download color sheets for The Tortoise and the Hare and create an interactive story. brings animals to life using a target. allows you to download color sheets and bring them to life using the app. provides sheets for the alphabet, shapes and space. By using the app you can hear the letter and the associated animal or fact.

Project Based Learning

I was familiar with project based learning but not at the scale it was presented. The Buck Institute ( ) provides a variety of free resources. In the session we created a crowd-sourced list of technology tools you might check out for all phases of PBL (

I am glad I had the opportunity to attend this conference. It increased my enthusiasm in technology literacy and connected me with a variety of resources in individuals that can guide me with ideas.

Stacey R. Hendren

It was a privilege to be selected as a participant of the Minnesota Library Association’s 2015 Institute for Leadership Excellence (MILE) and an honor to be given a continuing education scholarship by Metronet to help me attend. At MILE I became part of a cohort of 25 librarians who embarked on a four day journey of discovery and growth. As a group, we were challenged to be divergent thinkers and to incorporate play and humor into our work by Barry Kudrowitz. We delved into our strengths through the Strengths Finder and by Nikki Daniels. Jamie LaRue inspired us to dare to dream, to plan carefully and celebrate, and to remember to laugh, while imparting a wealth of wisdom.

Throughout the week panels of library leaders from around the state provided their insight into advocacy, leadership, MLA, supervision, and more. It was an opportunity to collaborate with peers, to learn more about my profession and my role as a librarian, and to be inspired. I find it amazing that four days can turn strangers into a team. MILE is an amazing program and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend. Expect great things from your library.

Katlin Heidgerken-Greene
FY15 Steltzner Scholarship Winner
Library Space, Child Development, and Behavior (class)

During March and April of this year, I was fortunate to be able to take part in an online course through the continuing education department at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Through this class, called Library Space, Child Development, and Behavior, I was able to learn about and directly practice several skills that will be helpful in my role as a library associate focusing in youth and public services, and to learn how to relate a knowledge of child development and classroom / behavior management techniques to my everyday practice. For example, through this course, I was able to formulate clear library expectations/rules statements for my building that will help kids learning to use the library be successful in our space. I also planned a program through a course activity, taking into account knowledge of child development and behavior management, with the goal of better managing activities and time in a hands-on program. This was a great exercise in program planning with a formal lesson plan. I was able to inventory my current library’s children s area and set goals for better ways to organize the space to make it more usable and welcoming to children.

Perhaps most immediately helpful to me in this course was the opportunity to re-write the scripts that I use for library school visit groups and tours, and to plan more intentionally how to best orient kids during tours to library resources and expectations. This was timely to me since with summer coming I will be doing many school visits and group tours in our building in the coming weeks, and it is important in that the new approach to tour groups will help start my library’s relationship with its youngest new users off on the right foot. Overall, the message of this course was how to better deliver a library experience to kids in a way that supports their success and is set up intentionally to provide a welcoming, structured and consistent place for kids so that they can learn and grow. These are lofty, but very important goals, and thanks to the very practical tools I gained from the course, I do feel better able to support the kids in my library’s community more intentionally and successfully right away. I am excited to put into practice these new skills during the summer reading program at my library!

Kristin Jones

Thanks to Metronet, I was able to attend the Minnesota Library Association Institute for Leadership Excellence, held May 12-15, 2015. In attending this conference, I was reaffirmed with my choice of career and cannot wait to test out my leadership skills (and build on them in the future).

Strengths Finder with Nikki Daniels was a very important session that I gained a great deal of knowledge from. I enjoyed the fact that we were able to learn about our personal strengths, as well as the rest of the attendees. “Your strengths are your force of nature, and they reveal the best of who you are” was one of Nikki’s quotes that really hit home with me. After learning about my top 5 personal strengths, I feel that I have a better understanding of myself personally and professionally. I am hoping to speak with my library system in order to encourage staff to take the strengths finder test at a future staff meeting.

James LaRue’s session was another significant session at the conference. We learned how to run a meeting, why good leadership is necessary in an organization, connecting with your passion in your professional life, confronting unacceptable behavior in the workplace, and so much more. One of my favorite portions of this session was when we talked about the library as a brand. We learned that in terms of brand advocacy, data alone will not change anyone’s mind on what the library has to offer. Storytelling is a method that will change people’s minds, as well as emotionally moving people. The takeaway from this is to start writing down the stories, as well as the data in order to advocate for your library or system.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend MILE. I not only learned a great deal about myself, but I was also able to network
with so many people with similar interests and aspirations. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the MILE class of 2015!

Rachel Lockman

The Minnesoa Library Association Institute for Leadership Excellence, held May 12-15, 2015, was edifying and will allow me to be a more effective leader in whatever library-related job I hold in Minnesota. Working with Nikki Daniels on my StrengthsFinder results helped me identify my personality and strengths, and Jamie LaRue translated those strengths into what challenges I might face as a manager in the future. One of the most interesting parts of the retreat was the interplay between the “always say yes” paradigm of some established panelists and the participants’ belief in work-life balance. This tension ended up playing out in further discussion and helped me to envision what I want my career to look like. MILE also assigned Tony Molaro of St. Kate’s as my mentor. We meshed well, and he gave me some sage advice already, in the short time we had to get acquainted and communicate mutual expectations. The most valuable outcome of MILE, however, was building relationships with community of accountability–my up and coming colleagues. I believe that networking will bear fruit for years to come.

Thanks to Metronet for supporting me in this opportunity.
Sarah Bober
What’s New in Children’s Literature – BER

Thanks to Metronet I was able to attend the annual “What’s New in Children’s Literature” conference presented by the Bureau of Education & Research. I have attended this workshop every year since 2002 and it is always one of my favorites. This year the presenter was Judy Freeman (, an author and children’s literature expert. During her program she not only shared titles but also activity ideas, related books, and lesson plans for over 100 books published in 2014-15. The 200 page booklet contains a wealth of materials about these newly published titles including online resources, reader’s theater scripts, and lists of favorite books and award winners. I plan on sharing the information I learned at this workshop with the library staff at Saint Paul Public Schools. The booklet will continue to be a valuable resource for assisting library staff in planning lessons and looking for related titles. This will also be a helpful tool for elementary classroom teacher ELA needs, especially for book group recommendations or finding additional books about particular topics. I was also excited to learn that Judy’s lists of recommended titles are available in Titlewave to make book ordering easier.

Below are Judy’s favorites for 2014:

Picture books:
Draw! by Raul Colón
Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

On the Wing by David Elliott

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Andrea Ferguson
2014 TIES Conference

Thank you for the opportunity to attend TIES 2014. Our district is going to 1:1 iPads this year and attending TIES allowed me to attend several sessions that will be extremly helpful for my day to day work. I enjoyed being able to learn more about iBooks, iTunes U and Family sharing. It’s always great to learn about new websites, apps, tips and tricks to use with our Media department. I’m most excited about using the upgrade to OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Upgrading to Yosemite will allow me to make seamless Quicktime videos for our Media staff tutorials, mirror the iPad to my laptop and airdrop files from the iPad to my laptop.
Leslie Yoder
2014 ALAN Conference

In November of 2014 I was thrilled to attend the Adolescent Literature Assembly for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The event is a feast of young adult literature and the authors that write it. It is also an opportunity to burrow in for some good reading and to consider the latest YA trends and what makes a good YA selection.

Each participant receives a large box of assorted YA titles. More books are distributed throughout the conference, during and after the individual author and author panel presentations.

Of particular note this year were books about transgender issues – an emerging issue that has not adequately been addressed previously in YA literature. The author panel for this topic included parent-child duos, which offered an enhanced perspective. The topic juxtaposed perfectly oft repeated suggestion that we stop stereotyping YA lit as girl or boy specific, but instead view the titles as good literature for all teens.

Highlights for me were meeting Kekla Magoon, the author of the Saint Paul Public Library’s 2015 Read Brave selection How it Went Down. I was also thrilled to meet E. R. Frank, the author of America and the recent gritty but excellent Dime, about sex trafficking of teens. Mark your calendars now for November 23 & 24, 2015. The 2015 ALAN Conference – Viva la Reading Revolution – will be held right here is Mpls/St. Paul!
Kathy Sabota
2014 TIES Conference

Amazing, brainy, clever . . . the ideas at the TIES Education Technology Conference in December were as plentiful as letters in alphabet soup. For starters, the keynote speakers both days were incredible and energetic. YongZhao was funny and engaging as he talked about the need to change education in America. Jane McGonigal, a gaming designer and advocate, was equally entertaining and enlightening, to such a degree that I shared some of her ideas with my teen book club the next day, since the book we were discussing was about teens living inside a virtual world (The Eye of Minds by James Dashner).

Some of the sessions I attended put new twists on older ideas. Uses for QR codes in the library beyond book reviews and adding Pinterest to my library webpage were seasoned ideas that were refined into something new for me to try.

A not new app that is new to me, however, is Library Thing. It looks like a cool tool for making book ideas more social. The very cool digital book projects from one presentation are ideas I will both pass on to teachers as well as encourage students to try. I was fascinated by Aurasma’s augmented reality, too. But I think all the information about brains that I heard was one of the most intriguing parts of the conference. Brains and technology is a combo not to be taken lightly, I learned. Both Jane McGonigal and Leslie Yoder had firm data to support that assertion.

Dizzying, exciting, fantastic . . . I’ll stop before I get to “z,” but without the Metronet scholarship I would not have been able to learn all the new things that I did. There isn’t even funding in my school to pay for subs for staff development! I left the TIES Conference with so much to pass on to the staff at school, as well as having a bagful of new things to try in the library. Thank you, Metronet!
Tori Jensen
ALAN Workshop

I was recently able to attend the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents Workshop, or ALAN, in Washington D.C. with a Metronet scholarship. This workshop is part of the bigger, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference, held annually and it begins the Monday after the NCTE conference. I often attend literary conferences, but ALAN is my absolute favorite and Metronet’s scholarship made it possible for me to attend. Next year, the NCTE Conference and ALAN Workshop will be held in Minneapolis. I encourage anyone who works with adolescents, or interested in young adult literature, to attend.

One of my favorite aspects of ALAN is the free giveaways. As a High School librarian, I am always looking for ways to get books into my students’ hands. This conference sent me home with over $1,000 in books that I can put in my library, or pass on to my students. All registrants are guaranteed to leave with at least a 40 pound box of books; however, I’ve always left with more than one. When I get home, I filter out any books that wouldn’t be appropriate for my collection or my students, and donate them to other schools or librarians. With library budgets being reduced across the board, whether public or school, this is one way I keep my collection current and I highly recommend others consider taking advantage of this aspect of ALAN next year.

But perhaps the most important ways attending the ALAN Workshop benefitted me professionally are the intangible sort. On Sunday night, ALAN holds a happy hour where teachers and librarians mingle with the rock stars of our world: the authors. This year I met Kekla Magoon, the author of the critically acclaimed novel How it Went Down. This was particularly exciting because many of my students will be participating in the Saint Paul Public Library’s Read Brave program, which has selected How it Went Down as its Read Brave book. Read Brave is a program that encourages teens and adults to read a yearly selection that addresses current issues that young adults face. When I approached Magoon, I said how timely I thought her book was, as it is about a black teenaged boy who is gunned down by a white man in broad daylight. She replied that she’d begun writing the novel after the Treyvon Martin shooting, but that publishers felt that by the time the book went to press, this issue would no longer be current. Unfortunately, the recent events in Ferguson, New York, and Cleveland continue to haunt the headlines. This is only one example of the insight I am able to glean from hobnobbing with authors at ALAN, and pass on to my community.

The majority of the workshop is made up of speakers, discussions, panels and presentations by authors, publishers, and other members of the adolescent literature community. The topics range from book talks to the common core to outsider culture and everything in-between. The keynote speaker this year was Libba Bray, a Printz Award winning author. Though I took home much food for thought, her topic has snuck into my thoughts more frequently than others. Bray made an argument regarding books, readers, and gender: “We have to stop calling for gender books! There are no boy books. There are no girl books. There are just books and they are for everyone.” She suggested that many book sellers, providers, etc. are gender prejudiced when suggesting reading material and that the problem, from her perspective, is only getting worse. This speech made me really think about how I recommend books to students, teachers, friends, and family. Do I encourage this gender prejudice? Libba’s speech encouraged me to reflect on my practices, and those of publishers, booksellers I work with, and colleagues. This topic resonated with me and will make me think harder about the assumptions I make, or try not to make, about readers based on their gender. This was a very valuable takeaway for me. Without Bray’s speech, it’s unlikely I would have started thinking about this topic in the way she framed it. Every year I come away from ALAN with new insights, ideas, and projects to start. This opportunity to connect with my community, which is usually scattered across the country, even the globe, is invaluable. I strongly encourage all of our Metronet community members to take part in ALAN next year, and to apply for scholarships to attend other conferences of interest, as well. It never hurts to ask, and you just might be amazed by what you come home with!
Shannon Melham
2014 MLA Conference

Thanks to the support of the Anoka County Library and a Metronet continuing education scholarship, I was able to attend PLD day and the MLA conference in Mankato, October 7-9. Valerie Gross kicked off PLD day with a presentation explaining the theory and practices laid out in her book Transforming Our Image, Building Our Brand: The Education Advantage. After getting the basics, we were given opportunities to work in small groups on rewording common phrases used to explain work done in libraries by library staff. For many years, when I have told people about the work I do for the Anoka County library, people would respond with “Oh, so you’re a teacher.” Valerie’s presentation confirmed that it is more than acceptable to take credit for the educational opportunities we offer to our customers and the important educational roles that library staff have in their communities. During the MLA conference I attended sessions addressing how libraries are integrating school readiness practices into our programs, public speaking for library staff, what the LGBTQ community needs/wants from their libraries and what libraries are providing, job searching in the library field, and geocaching programs. I moderated 3 of the sessions I attended this year. Had I offered to be a moderator, I may not have attended some of those sessions that were on topics that are out of my usual realm. Because I volunteered to moderate& I had public speaking skills refreshed, gave thought about how I can positively impact someone’s job search, and learned more about geocaching in an hour than I ever thought possible. I enjoyed being on a panel, along with other mentor-mentee pairs, during the MLA Institute for Leadership Excellence session. And I was happy to share Reading Education Assistance Dog program information with those in attendance at the CYP meeting. Once again, the MLA conference was educational, informational, inspirational and refreshing. I returned back to my work at Anoka County reminded of how important the work I do is to our customers, my coworkers, and the MN library community.