Orchard School teacher librarian Donna Sullivan-MacDonald received the 2015 Vermont School Library Association Award at the recently held K-12 Edtech Dynamic Landscapes Conference in Burlington.

Orchard’s Sullivan-MacDonald Honored by VSLA

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Thursday June 04, 2015

Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe recently presented Orchard School teacher librarian Donna Sullivan-MacDonald with the Vermont School Library Association’s (VSLA) Award for 2015. According to VSLA, the award is in recognition of an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to school libraries and the Vermont library community. Sullivan-MacDonald is in her 19th year as Orchard’s teacher librarian. For ten years, she has also been a technology integrationist at the Orchard School, having earned her master’s degree in educational technology in 2003.

Sullivan-MacDonald credits former Orchard School librarian, Nancy Hunt, for her current career. After teaching for 13 years in Winooski followed by a few years as a stay-at-home mom, Sullivan-MacDonald worked part time at Orchard in their supplemental reading program. She remembers, “Nancy saw some of the projects that I was doing with students and asked me to run the summer library program. I ended up working part time as Nancy’s library assistant for the next four years.” With encouragement from Hunt, Sullivan-MacDonald took the necessary courses to gain a library media endorsement on her educator’s license, adding, “When Nancy retired in 1996, I was hired to take over the Orchard School Library. Nancy was my mentor and still is a very dear friend.” 

When asked what the VSLA award means to her, Sullivan-MacDonald replies, “It is so special to me since it was given by my peers. Past recipients of the award have been University of Vermont educators, Vermont Department of Libraries staff, and the executive director of RETN (Regional Educational Television Network), in addition to school librarians. I am incredibly honored to have been selected this year!”

Currently Sullivan-MacDonald has been working on creating a “makerspace” in Orchard School’s library, which is an area set aside for hands-on activities for students to create, invent and learn. She says that Orchard library’s makerspace has a 3D printer, electronics, craft supplies and much more, adding, “I enjoy exploring all sorts of new technology with students, including 3D printing!”

At the end of June, Sullivan-MacDonald will be in Philadelphia for the annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. As the current president of ISTE’s Librarians Network, which has over two thousand members worldwide, she notes, “I’ve been quite busy organizing several sessions for this conference, including a “playground” where 30 members will be sharing favorite tech tools.”

With such a full schedule, it appears Sullivan-MacDonald has little time for anything else, but she happily reports, “I’m looking forward to attending four Red Sox games in Boston this summer!” Well deserved, for sure.

Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe’s remarks when presenting Donna Sullivan-MacDonald the 2015 Vermont School Library Association Award:

The VSLA Award for 2015 is being given to a dynamic person. Some words that were used to describe her are hardworking, tenacious, efficient, grounded, and kind.
She is the epitome of a multi-tasker. She works as both the teacher librarian and information technology educator at her school. She has served multiple years as a VSLA board member in a few different capacities, including Conference Committee Chair and as the legislative representative. She is currently the President of the ISTE Librarians Network. She has procured grants for her school and most recently, every student at her school participated in the Hour of Code and the school was awarded a $10,000 prize from code.org. (A non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Their vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.)

Whether she is in Washington, D.C. talking to our legislative representatives; finding amazing speakers for the Dynamic Landscapes keynote address; setting up boathouse dinners for VSLA members; organizing a Teacher Librarian News Night broadcast from her library; designing a Lego Wall; or reading a Red Clover book to a group of second graders, she does her tasks with professionalism, competence and thoughtfulness.

She willingly shares information and opportunities with all of us; promotes social media to advocate for her students and her profession; and models lifelong learning. The Vermont School Library Association would like to thank Donna Sullivan-Macdonald for her service to all in her community of learners.