2022 Nebraska Librarian of the Year:
Doug Keel of R.M. Marrs Middle School
Doug Keel was awarded the 2022 Nebraska Librarian of the Year Award. Doug Keel is the school librarian at R.M. Marrs Middle School, one of three middle schools in the Omaha Public Schools offering a dual language program.
Nominated by Colleen Nieland, she states, "Whenever someone asks me who is a model librarian, Doug’s name is the first one to come to mind. Doug was my unofficial mentor when I entered the library profession 15 years ago. The very first library meeting, Doug offered to help with anything I needed. I’m not sure what my first year as a librarian would’ve looked like without Doug, I have called on him countless times during my career as a librarian for ideas and feedback. Doug is one of the most creative and innovative librarians that I have had the pleasure to work with."
"Doug is one of a kind."
Doug is in the NSEA Voice Magazine. His article is on page 11.
Check out his KETV7 story here!
2022 Distinguished Administrator Award:
Tucker Tejkl, Superintendent of Shelby-Rising City Public Schools
Tucker Tejkl, was awarded Distinguished Administrator by the Nebraska Association of School Librarians by Dr. Christine Haeffner (NSLA President-Elect). The Shelby-Rising City Public Schools Superintendent received the award before his school staff. Although a new superintendent, “no one has had more of a positive effect on my school library than him” states Mandy Peterson who nominated him for the award.
She shares the many ways he had positively impacted the Shelby-Rising City School Library. “He asked what my goals and priorities were so he could support them, and he asked about my concerns. My major concern was a safety issue, and he worked to get maintenance, the school board, and the public library (with whom we share the space) all on board to address that concern. He has continuously promoted and enriched my school library efforts. He always shares what the school library is doing on social media. He was a guest reader for my library classes when I was unexpectedly gone.”
He is active in many aspects of the library program.
Peterson and Tejkl worked together to update the school library’s policies this year. Which were updated unanimously with no changes. During a three-week period , which included the library’s annual Change War and Book Fair. Mr. Tejkl went above and beyond. “In 2021, our change war raised $1333. For the Change War this year, Tucker suggested coming up with tiers of fundraising and having the administration team do silly things. Because of his efforts, we raised a staggering $4287! This money went to pay for incentives and get books into the hands of students through our first Husky Heart program. This allowed kids to choose any book for free at the book fair, update classroom libraries PK-12, and improve our overall school library. We installed bins for board books and early chapter books, clear shelf inserts so we could forward face some picture book shelves, and added two spinning units to house our leveled readers. We were also able to add 2 Dash coding robots with accessories, Book Buddy kits, and Rubik’s cube kits to keep our kids engaged. He amped students up by getting on the school roof in the mascot costume and waving to them before school, getting duct taped to the wall, and getting slimed while eating crickets.
“He’s also gone to bat for school libraries and school librarians as an advocate to the Nebraska State Board of Education and legislation. Mr. Tejkl has made many phone calls and written many emails to address concerns regarding proposed bills, the attack on school libraries, and the superintendent’s view of what is really happening in Nebraska schools. When the opportunity arose to join with AASL as part of an administration group, he jumped at the chance to apply.
"Tucker Tejkl is a powerhouse of enthusiasm and support for all of his students and teachers - including the school library."
(photo credit to Emily Blackburn)
2022 NSLA Meritorious Service Award:
Courtney Pentland of Lincoln Northstar High School
This award is granted at the discretion of the NSLA Board and is based upon service and contributions to the school library profession. Time and time again, librarians across the state, and our organization has had one go-to person. Having served at various levels in the library field in Nebraska including the elementary, secondary, and district levels, as well as post-secondary levels, this librarian brings countless amounts of experience to our field and is a constant advocate for Nebraska librarians. This is a librarian who gets everything done when asked of her, who is a wonderful human being, and who now represents our state at the national level as the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) President. Throughout her years of service in and with school libraries, Courtney has made significant contributions to aid our profession. She is quick to drop items in her own life to help share and advocate for school libraries. We are proud of all the work she has done and will continue to do for school librarians in our state. We thank her for her contributions to school libraries.
2021 Nebraska School Librarian of the Year Award Winner:
Sara Friest of Lincoln Southeast High School
On Saturday, October 16, 2021, the Nebraska School Librarians Association (NSLA) announced the 2021 Nebraska School Librarian of the Year: Sara Friest of Lincoln Southeast High School in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Nebraska School Librarian of the Year award is in its inaugural year and seeks to recognize outstanding work in the school library field. The award’s criteria are based upon an individual’s demonstrated creativity and innovation in the profession through instructional opportunities and programming.
Sara was nominated by Joy Harvey and Emily Jacobs of Lincoln Public Schools. Within their nominations, they stated that, “Mrs. Friest has worked hard to make the library an inclusive and fun place for all students.” One way that she has done this is by collaborating with an English teacher, Julie Krueger, to create a monthly program called “Community of Learners” which brings students together. Friest and Krueger collaborate with students to plan games, crafts, photo booths, and other activities with the goal of creating a sense of community and friendship among the students.
The Nebraska School Librarian of the Year award was presented on Friday, October 15, 2021 by Mandy Peterson of the NSLA, Emily Jacobs, Dr. Chris Haeffner, Lincoln Southeast administrators, a filming crew, and Julie Krueger’s class. “Southeast Library is the place to be and that is because of Mrs. Friest’s hard work, dedication, and vision…” Dr. Chris Haeffner stated during the awards presentation. The NSLA echoed that sentiment via Mandy Peterson. “Sara is a tremendous example of a modern school librarian and the value school librarians bring to the table. It is evident from the time I was able to spend with her, her coworkers, and her students in the school library that she is doing great things. We are wildly proud of her."