Passion for learning, teaching leads District 36’s Todd Burleson to national honor

By Kathy Routliffe • Contact Reporter Pioneer Press

SEPTEMBER 12, 2016, 4:43 PM

 

Pioneer Press

Here is a link to the actual Tribune Article  After a certain amount of time, it will probably be available only for subscribers, so I’ve re-posted the text and images here for my readers.

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The third grade students sitting around Todd Burleson in Hubbard Woods School’s resource center one day last week were enthralled. Burleson, the center’s director, was regaling them with the tale of why one foot was in a bright blue cast. Limited mobility notwithstanding, he was animated and eminently watchable, and the youngsters responded in kind.

Burleson’s storytelling, and the way his students reacted, probably wouldn’t surprise Hubbard Woods principal Beth Carmody.

“When it comes to kids, he has so many childlike qualities of curiosity and passion, that he learns along with them,” she said. “And I think because his vision is always about learning, he passes that on to them.”

Many people use the word “passion” to help describe Burleson, who has been named 2016 School Librarian of the Year by the School Library Journal and Scholastic.

That passion – to teach students and teachers, to work with colleagues and parents to transform Hubbard Woods’ library into the IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering and Art) lab that he happily calls a “libratory” – helped judges make their choice for outstanding achievement and innovation.

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In announcing his win, judges cited many of Burleson’s accomplishments, not just turning the library into what they called “an integrated, technology-driven space where students can exercise their creativity,” although they described that as “the highlight of his seven-year tenure as a library media specialist.”

The space opened last October after a summer during which Burleson and a dedicated team of PTO parent volunteers put sweat equity into its creation as part of the school’s centennial celebrations. Burleson stumped for the project when PTO members asked what they could do to mark the anniversary; last week, he grinned broadly and said, “When they asked me if I had any ideas, I pulled out my dream folder and said, ‘Boy, do I!'”

One project volunteer, parent Sarah Graham, said that Burleson was a great partner to work with because he wants to hear what others are thinking.

“He encourages not just the kids, but the parents, too, to take risks,” she said. “And when he comes to do anything, he come to it 110 percent … when we were painting walls, moving furniture, doing what we had to do, he was there every step of the way.

Judges for this year’s competition also lauded Burleson’s work with parents, school and district teachers, and library colleagues around the world via district seminars, national conference presentations and commentaries on his blog, https://toddburleson.com.

District Superintendent Trisha Kocanda was equally enthusiastic. Burleson skillfully blends high- and low-tech education techniques to make sure that the IDEA lab can enhance what students learn in their classrooms, she said.

“It’s pretty remarkable to see the engagement level of our students, and the way he can introduce them to new ideas, concepts and tools,” she said, adding that the method dovetails perfectly with the district’s mission of progressive education.

The district will honor Burleson later this month at a Hubbard Woods School town hall meeting, Kocanda said.

Burleson, 47, said he always wanted to be a teacher. The former third and fourth grade teacher actually student taught at Hubbard Woods. He later taught in North Carolina and at Evanston’s Baker Demonstration School before District 36 hired him 20 years ago.

He knew he’d been nominated for the award by a PTO member, but forgot about it until magazine officials told him he’d won the award in July. He said he couldn’t let anyone know until late last month.

Not everyone has access to the kind of financial support, parent volunteer strength, and mission friendliness that he is blessed with in District 36, he said, but all educators can use their creativity and ingenuity to do many of the things he’s been able to do for their students and colleagues.

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He said that now he wants to use his newfound notoriety as a platform.

“One of my own missions is to promote the importance of progressive education and the value of libraries and librarians,” he said. “My goal this year is to help share ideas, and this is allowing me to collaborate on a global level.”

Twitter: @pioneer_kathy

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Image courtesy of htps://twitter.com/msgilbertrocks

The Hubbard Woods Community Celebrates Our Collaboration!

This morningidea_hq_transparent I opened my email to see our PTO’s newsletter and found myself overwhelmed with emotions: pride, joy and sadness.  It could be me remembering this day fifteen years ago.  I stood, cradling my four-day old son in my arms watching in horror with the nation.  Or it could be that I’m missing my only daughter who we left at the University of Minnesota recently.  Regardless, my emotions spilled out uncontrollably.
It’s been an amazing few months.  When I got the ‘phone call’ from School Library Journal’s Executive Editor Kathy Ishizuka telling me I was the new School Librarian of the Year I was speechless.  For nearly two months, I had to keep the secret.  I didn’t even tell my own kids until the night before the announcement was made official!

I’m immensely honored and excited to see the news being shared with the community who helped make it happen!  The tireless work of this community made the IDEA Lab a reality!  This year I’m excited to see how the students, parents and faculty help continue to evolve this unique space! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

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How Did I Get Here?

1988.590.02-1024x819Hubbard Woods School c. 1940. WHS Photo 1988.590.02.

It’s been an amazing week for me!  The 2016 School Library Journal’s School Librarian of the Year announcement has filled me with both pride and joy. I thought I would take some time and reflect on how I got here.

When I was an education student at Ohio University back in 1988-1992, I was fortunate enough to have a professor George Wood and his protege Jean Ann Hunt as professors.  Professor Wood, at the time, was researching a book that would go on to be titled Schools That Work: America’s Most Innovative Public Education Programs.

When one day in class Professor Wood asked if anyone wanted to join him on a field trip to Chicago to do some interviews for the book, I was the first one with my hand in the air. Turned out that I had the chance to visit two schools on that trip.  One was an elementary school in an area of inner city Chicago called Cabrini Green and the other was Hubbard Woods Elementary School.

Both schools blew me away, but our host and principal of Hubbard Woods, Dick Streedain.  I had never met a person like Dick before.  The two of us spent the better part of an afternoon discussing everything from educational philosophy, Carl Jung, and the Chicago Bulls.  I had formed a bond with this man that was unlike any I had ever experienced.  By the end of the weekend, Dick had asked me to come and do my student teaching at Hubbard Woods.  Not only was I flattered, but I was also flummoxed.  After all, The Ohio University was nearly 500 miles and several states away.  Dick assured me we would find a way to make it happen and a little over a year later, I started student teaching at Hubbard Woods Elementary School.

For three months I lived with a Hubbard Woods Family, the Meyer’s.  They had a third-floor apartment that became my new ‘home.’  Each morning I’d eat breakfast with their children and pack my lunch.  One of their daughter’s Emily was actually in my 2nd/3rd-grade class and we walked to school together each day.  I truly felt like the teacher on The Little House on the Prairie!

In the time between my first visit and my student teaching, Jean Ann Hunt had taken a couple of year’s leave to come and teach at Hubbard Woods School.  You probably have figured out by now that she was my student teaching cooperating teacher.  Next door to our classroom was another educator I admired, Daniel Ryan. In fact, the whole school embraced me.  My student teaching experience was exhausting, invigorating and life-changing.

At the conclusion of my student teaching, I was offered at job at one of the elementary schools in the small district.   While incredibly humbled and honored, I did not feel ready. My time at Ohio University gave me the chance to work with learners of all ages in the Appalachian communities in the area.  I treasured that diversity but craved more.  So, I accepted a position as a 5th-grade teacher at Vanstory Hills Elementary School in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Those two years tested me.  After coming from a university where textbooks in methods classes were not used, and a school district like Winnetka where teachers create the curriculum and resources, being handed a stack of textbooks was about as foreign to me as having to teach in all Spanish.

My time at Ohio University gave me the chance to work with learners of all ages in the Appalachian communities in the area.  I treasured that diversity but craved more.  So, I accepted a position as a 5th-grade teacher at Vanstory Hills Elementary School in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  The diversity of this school was unlike any I had ever been exposed to.  Everything from the school culture to the community was foreign to me. Those two years tested me.  After coming from a university where textbooks in methods classes were not used, and a school district like Winnetka where teachers create the curriculum and resources, being handed a stack of textbooks was about as foreign to me as having to teach in all Spanish.

Nonetheless, I learned so much.  At the conclusion of my second year, I got a call from Dick Streedain and he let me know that a position at one of the other elementary schools had again come open; I jumped at the chance.

I taught for two years at Greeley School in fourth grade.  I decided to continue my education at National Louis University.  In an amazing twist of fate, Daniel Ryan (the same next door teaching neighbor) had become the director of the Baker Demonstration School! The Demonstration School was amazing!  I had a mixed age class of 4th and 5th graders.  I built the curriculum with my peers and was encouraged to explore, push and challenge both my students and myself!  After completing my master’s degree, I once again got a call from Winnetka.  This time, it was from the principal Maureen Cheever.

Over the course of a few interviews, I had been offered a chance to teach once again at Hubbard Woods!

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The Past and Present Principals of Hubbard Woods Elementary School

Daniel Ryan,  Bill Meuer, Beth Carmody, Maureen Miller, Dick Streedain

At Hubbard Woods School, I taught one year as a third-grade teacher and spent the next fourteen years teaching fourth grade.  When the librarian/Resource Center Director announced his retirement, I decided that I would interview for it.  After being hired, I once again attended National Louis University to earn my Library Media Specialist credentials.

I had the phenomenal opportunity to work with some of the leading professionals in the field.

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Like anything, it took the support and patience of parent and school leaders to help make changes like this happen.  I give a lot of the credit to Maureen Cheever who hired me; first as a classroom teacher and then later as the new Resource Center Director.  She believed in the ‘vision’ back when it was in a manilla folder marked “DREAMS!”

Along with Maureen’s initial support, I have to give tremendous credit to the then principal Daniel Ryan who fully backed the transformation and to the Tech Director Maureen Miller and Superintendent Trisha Kocanda who answered every question I posed to them with a ‘Yes, and…”

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And none of the work could have been done if it were not for the OVERWHELMING support and encouragement of our Parent Teacher Organization who backed the initial project and set this monumental program in motion.  The experience of working with President Jen Hayes and Vice President Brooke Helmstetter and IDEA Lab Chair Sarah Graham could not have been more collaborative and supportive! Our custodians jumped in and went far and above to make the vision a reality.  And now, our new principal Beth Carmody is on fire for the new ideas and programs we have cued up for this year!

Seven years of trial and error, tons of collaboration and sweat equity our school and I are honored to be named the School Library Journal’s School Librarian of the Year!

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So, what’s next?  Well, first of all, I can’t wait to get back into space.  Summer rains caused a lot of trouble and had the school closed right up until the last minute.  Leg surgery popped up on the radar in the final weeks of summer as well.

I hope that this year I can use the platform to encourage and promote progressive learning, a love of reading and STEAM education for ALL students!  I hope you’ll join me on the journey!

 

 

Yes, He Can! Todd Burleson, SLJ’s 2016 School Librarian of the Year: Link to the Full Article!

 

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Photo by Saverio Truglia

“Please keep robots out of the sawdust” is the kind of phrase heard around the library at Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, IL, where Todd Burleson can be found leading engineering challenges, inspiring student reporters, and constantly inventing.

Source: Yes, He Can! Todd Burleson, SLJ’s 2016 School Librarian of the Year

I’m the 2016 School Library Journal’s School Librarian of the Year!

SLJ160901-PromoCover.jpg2016 SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL SCHOOL LIBRARIAN OF THE YEAR ANNOUNCED

Contact:
Roger Jarman, School Library Journal, rjarman@mediasourceinc.com, 646-380-0746
Brittany Sullivan, Scholastic, bsullivan@scholastic.com, 212-343-4848

Winner Todd Burleson and Finalists Laura Gardner and Anita Cellucci Recognized
by
School Library Journal and Scholastic for Outstanding Achievement and Innovation in the School Library
NEW YORK, NY – August 25, 2016 – The 2016 School Librarian of the Year Award winner and two finalists were announced today by School Library Journal (SLJ). Sponsored by Scholastic Library Publishing, this award honors K–12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies. The 2016 School Librarian of the Year, Todd Burleson of Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, IL, will receive a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 worth of print and digital materials from Scholastic Library Publishing. Laura Gardner of Dartmouth Middle School in Dartmouth, MA and Anita Cellucci of Westborough High School in Westborough, MA were both selected as finalists and will each receive $500 in materials of their choice from Scholastic Library Publishing.

The September 2016 issue of School Library Journal featuring winner Todd Burleson as the cover story is currently available in print and online. To read the full article, visit: http://slj.com/librarianoftheyear

A panel comprised of industry professionals including 2015 School Librarian of the Year, Kristina Holzweiss, judged all nominations based on several criteria including: exemplary service to fulfill the needs of students and the school community; creativity in programming and use of content; collaboration with teacher peers, staff, and administrators; demonstrated student engagement; exemplary use of technology tools; and more.

Quotes about the 2016 School Librarian of the Year Award:

Todd Burleson, 2016 School Librarian of the Year
“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year. I’ve never worked harder or had more fun than my time working with students and encouraging collaboration in the library. My passion for learning, I’ve been told, is slightly contagious and I am excited to share my experiences and continue my professional growth with educators across the country.”

Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal
“These outstanding educators provide an inspiring model for us all, demonstrating how individual, impassioned leadership can make a difference in the lives of young people. School Library Journal is honored to highlight their work through the School Librarian of the Year Award, which underscores the critical role of librarians and media specialists in supporting student engagement and learning. SLJ looks forward to working with the 2016 honorees in advancing the profession and raising awareness in the broader community of the great work that librarians do.”

Allison Henderson, Vice President and General Manager, Scholastic, Library Publishing Division
“These passionate librarians have transformed their schools’ libraries into vibrant spaces that present learning in interactive and exciting ways, paving the path for student success. At Scholastic, we believe recognizing the hard work, creativity and dedication of teacher librarians like Todd Burleson is important to showcase how their roles enrich schools and communities. We are excited to see how the School Librarian of the Year Award winners will share with their peers, fostering future generations of creative-thinkers and joyful readers throughout the country.”

About the 2016 School Librarian of the Year Winner and Finalists:

2016 School Librarian of the Year Todd Burleson, Hubbard Woods School, Winnetka, IL
Transforming Hubbard Woods School’s library into an IDEA Lab—an integrated, technology-driven space where students can exercise their creativity—has been the highlight of Todd Burleson’s seven-year tenure as a library media specialist. In an effort to enhance classroom learning and empower students to think critically, Burleson, director of Hubbard Woods’ resource center, established daily blocks of time where students are welcomed into the lab to experiment with hands-on makerspace activities including coding, assembling robots, woodworking, sewing, laser cutting and 3D printing. Burleson extends this theme of innovation outside the library by engaging families in fun competitions and training them to use new technology. When he isn’t working with K–4 students or their parents, Burleson presents his best practices with the library community and colleagues at national conferences, on his blog, and through professional development seminars within his district.

Finalist Anita Cellucci, Westborough High School, Westborough, MA
Library teacher Anita Cellucci created a dynamic and collaborative safe haven for students at Westborough High School, based on a school-wide Guided Inquiry Design Process. Working closely with teachers and guidance counselors, Cellucci used this research model to support students’ social-emotional learning, encouraging them to take the lead in their own individualized learning experiences using print and online tools. In response to a growing number of mental health issues within her school, Cellucci secured a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which promoted awareness and established coping strategies for teachers, students and the community at large. Cellucci also serves as a coach for the school’s Poetry Power Club and the Teen Advisory Board, regularly speaks at education conferences, and facilitates professional development programs.

Finalist Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA
Through the ongoing support of parent and student volunteers, teacher librarian Laura Gardner, NBCT, established a dynamic makerspace in the Dartmouth Middle School library. Every day, students are empowered by choice as they explore their creativity using the library’s research and makerspace tools including a Lego wall, green screens, Touchcast, and more. To further engage students through leadership opportunities, Gardner brings young volunteers to conferences and committee meetings to present on their unique work in the library. Using social media, Gardner actively stays up-to-date with new technology, shares regular updates with families, and proudly celebrates her students’ accomplishments.