PPMS library dubbed state’s School Library of the Year

PELHAM – Pelham Park Middle School and its librarian April Wallace recently received the Alabama School Library of the Year award by the Alabama School Library Association.

Nominations were made in the spring and the award was presented at the ASLA’s annual summer conference. The award recognizes an outstanding school library program that provides an innovative and creative learning environment for children or teens.

Wallace said any type of recognition feels great, but this award is especially significant because it’s an award from her library peers.

“I was so surprised when I got the news that we had won because I didn’t know anyone had even nominated us,” Wallace said. “I am proud and honored to be a part of the Pelham Park family. I hope our students and staff feel proud of our award, too. It is a collaborative effort; we wouldn’t have the library we have without our fabulous teachers, supportive administration and my wonderful student library aides. I am also very thankful that when our school was built that a lot of thought and effort was put into making sure that we had a beautiful physical space planned for our library.”

Principal Justin Hefner said Wallace does a great job with providing a large selection of resources for students as well as teaching lessons and exposing them to different cultures.

Wallace has taught classes about reliable research websites and digital citizenship, and students have access to virtual headsets, reading programs, various types of software and more.

“I truly believe we do have the greatest library in the state,” Hefner said. “Ms. Wallace is kids first and she is just adored by our students. Our library is such a high-point of our school.”

Wallace, who is also the school’s Teacher of the Year, said her biggest priority is making sure the library is student-centered.

“I want the library to be a comfortable, warm, inviting place that all students feel like is their own,” she said. “Middle school is a time where even big readers can start turning away from reading or feel like they don’t have the time to read anymore. We have added a lot of new books and audiobooks along with virtual reality headsets that the students can experiment with. I get a lot of student input on what we purchase for the library so that my kids feel like it is their library and not just Ms. Wallace’s library.”

Another area Wallace has focused on is making sure the library collection and space reflects the student population and the Pelham community.

“We have such a rich, diverse student body and our library should be an extension of that diversity,” she said. “Kids need to see stories that reflect their own experiences as well as experiences of others. Last year I collaborated with another teacher to provide lessons to students about other cultures. I want to help students become interested in the world and become more globally aware.”