Written By: Hans Appel
“We build a culture of readers by establishing a school-wide learning community where students have equal access and opportunity to books, activities, adult models of readers, and reinforcement of the value of reading.”
In her landmark book, “Lead with Literacy”, Ellis makes a strong case urging educators to lead with: Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask & Analyze, Transformation, and Enthusiasm. Furthermore, she explains “If we as leaders and educators aren’t serving as strong models of lifelong reading, we cannot expect our students to become readers; they will follow our example far more readily than they will heed our words.”
Following Ellis’ advice, I’ve been reading, writing and thinking A LOT about what makes an #AwardWinningCulture...
Award Winning Culture thrives when educational leaders create special opportunities designed to promote personalized literacy exploration.
At Enterprise Middle School, I’m fortunate to work with some outstanding literacy leaders including our incredible librarian, Michelle Lane. Michelle is a forward thinking literacy advocate who has created an absolutely epic annual event called Cavalcade of Authors (COA). Since 2007, Michelle and her team of volunteers have been planning, organizing, and leading a writing conference where secondary students across our region are given access to some of the best Young Adult authors of our modern era. There are writing contests, featured book talks, panel discussions and autograph sessions. COA provides students a chance to learn and interact with the very authors whose books they are reading.
Students at a recent COA conference said “Cavalcade of Authors was the chance of a lifetime to meet authors and ask them questions.” “Everything around us is an inspiration!” “I learned that at any age you can be a writer.” “The workshops are a lot of fun and are very interactive. Plus, the authors are super cool and very friendly.”
Students aren’t the only ones who are thrilled to be apart of this unique mentorship experience. Authors around the country are clamoring to be part of Michelle’s annual event. Author, Jennifer Donnelly, says “I loved every minute of Cavalcade-from the enthusiastic school panels, to high-fiving the writing contest winner, to the workshops attended by super-dedicated young writers.” Furthermore, Author Justina Chen reinterates her literary peers’ excitement when she shared “I’d like to give a personal shout out to Michelle Lane for organizing a fantastic Northwest book festival. Through Cavalcade of Authors, thousands of teens have been able to meet with their favorite authors because of her, her vision, and her team of literacy-minded volunteers.”
The authors are given the full #WildcatNation VIP (Very Interesting Person) treatment with an adult event the night before, red carpet entrance, and all of their needs met with exceptional hospitality and service.
But if all Michelle accomplished throughout the year was one incredible event, her passion for creating lifelong readers might fall short of Ellis’ push for consistent daily literacy opportunities. Instead, Michelle brings an unmatched enthusiasm for helping all students develop a love for reading and writing EVERYDAY! She creates incredible book talks for students, even facilitating student voice with student book recommendations. She creates crazy over the top activities like her March Madness book bracket, where students can vote on their top book. Furthermore, she’s committed to creating a safe, open space for all students. She meets with various student groups to ensure our library offers the type of literature that students desire and makes an intentional point of creating relationships with some of our most high needs students. By creating a warm, welcome place for all of #WildcatNation she ensures the library is a hub of literary diversity.
With a school focused on Character, Excellence, and Community, I’m grateful to work with such an exceptional literacy leader. Armed with a summer of rest and reflection, I’m excited to see what #FutureDriven ideas Michelle has to keep reading and writing a school-wide obsession.
How will you turn up the dial on your school’s passion for literacy?
About the Author
Hans Appel has worked as a counselor in the Richland School District for the past 18 years and at Enterprise Middle School since it opened. He’s passionate about school culture, servant leadership, and kindness. In 2018, EMS was awarded the ASCD Whole Child Award for the State of Washington and the Global “Class Act Award” for creating a culture of excellence through kindness, service, and empathy. Recently, Hans launched his own blog about School Culture and this fall rolled out a student-led leadership podcast called Award Winning Culture: Hosted by Wildcat Nation, which can be subscribed, listened or reviewed on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, and Libsyn. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Hans on twitter @hansappel094. Follow AWC on twitter at @awculture or Instagram @awardwinningculture. Wildcat Nation at @emswildcats1 and Instagram @emscounseling #WildcatNation #AwardWinningCulture
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.