Influence and the John Ward Award

Can you pinpoint the moment in your life when you decided on your career direction? For me, I can’t pinpoint it to the exact date, but I can identify the time of my life.

Once there was a little girl who went to a Primary School. She was the little chubby kid who had a brain in her head and who discovered a place in the school where she mattered. It was the school library. Unusually, it was run by two men, one of whom took an interest in her and encouraged her. He gave her responsibility and helped foster the love of reading that had been established early in life by her mother.  He pushed her to read widely, even when it was Paul Zindel’s, ‘My Darling, My Hamburger’, and she had to go back to school and kindly inform him that really, this book wasn’t suitable for someone in Grade 5.  He gave her ‘The Nargun and the Stars’ for her work as a Library Monitor, and even though she didn’t really like the book, she kept it on her bookshelf for years; it followed her from house to house through her married life and still occupies a place to this day.  The man’s name was Wayne Hassett, and to this day, he has no idea of the influence he had on this young girl’s life. He helped her to love libraries and harbour the desire to be a Librarian when she got older.

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That little girl was me, and yes, I did become a Teacher-Librarian. Last Friday, I stood on a stage in the Clemenger Theatre at the National Gallery of Victoria and accepted the John Ward Award from the School Library Association of Victoria. The award is given to a recipient who demonstrates an outstanding contribution to learning and teaching at their school and raises the profile of the profession through their role as Teacher Librarian.  It was one of my life’s proudest moments, and in my speech I paid homage to the Teacher-Librarian who all those years ago influenced a little girl to pursue a career where she could encourage others to experience the joy that comes from reading and acquiring knowledge.

So, all of you out there. Do your job well. Do it well so that you can motivate others, spark a desire within them to reach for their dreams. You never know who it is that you are influencing, who out there is remembering the kind word, the encouraging comment, the friendly smile, the nudge to extend themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of doing. It’s probably the most important thing we can do.

*SLAV’s blog, Bright Ideas, have posted about the award – thanks very much to Judith Way for writing such kind words about me. Judith, herself, was a well deserving recipient of the innovator’s award last Friday at the ceremony. Congratulations Judith!

7 Replies to “Influence and the John Ward Award”

  1. I’ve only just caught up with your blog Jenny & am really delighted for you. You deserve to be recognised for the incredible work you are doing for your school & the TL community. Well done & congratulations. You are an inspiration.

  2. A well deserved award too Jenny. Congratulations to both you and Judith. You do an amazing job. A man was also my first Teacher Librarian, and was behind the decision for me to become one as well. Back in 1966, there was a very heated debate at my primary school about whether a swimming pool or a library should be built. My parents were a part of the decision making team, and finally the school library won out. One of the first books this young TL talked about was Koronglea Holidays, part of a series I loved, and have gradually acquired during my life. I wonder if these men ever had any inkling of how they would inspire others into our profession? Cheers, Karen Kearney

    1. I wonder that too Karen. I know he still works in the area but I don’t think it is still as a TL. I’ll have to endeavour to thank him personally won’t I!

  3. Thanks Jenny for your congratulations. It is lovely to be recognised by your peers isn’t it? I hope you proudly display your award at school. I haven’t done so as yet, but should really.

  4. Jenny,

    What a truly wonderful honor! I’m so happy to hear about this.

    And your story is really touching and inspiring.

    Thanks for reminding us of the role we play in nurturing our students–it’s the most important thing we do.

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