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High school librarian receives top state honors

Garnetta Wilker is librarian of the year
by: contributed photo, Garnetta Wilker.

Sandy High School teacher-librarian Garnetta Wilker has been named the Oregon 2006 Secondary Teacher-Librarian of the Year by the Oregon Educational Media Association, the professional group for school librarians and media specialists throughout the state.

The organization selected Wilker from numerous highly qualified candidates who were nominated by their school principals. This is the highest award given by the OEMA, which annually honors one exemplary elementary teacher-librarian, one secondary teacher-librarian, one school library paraprofessional, and one school or district administrator.

Wilker will be honored during a banquet at the OEMA Fall Conference in Salem on Oct. 14.

'OEMA received a number of nominations for the awards this year; Ms. Wilker stood out above the other highly qualified candidates with the depth and breadth of her school library program at Sandy High School,' said OEMA Awards Co-Chairperson Margaret Ogren in a written statement. 'She incorporates reading promotion, research skills instruction, technology use and collaboration with classroom teachers while running an exemplary school library.'

Sandy High School Principal Jim Saxton said nominating Wilker was a no-brainer.

'As long as I've been around here, we've had a lot of librarians,' Saxton said, 'and I've never had one that was so tuned in to being a resource for the staff and the kids. She's the best school librarian I've ever worked with by far.'

Saxton said Wilker 'works her tail off' to keep the high school's 'pathetic' library functional, 'so kids have a fighting chance to do research for their coursework. If we had a real library, I could just imagine some of the things she could do. It would be amazing.'

Wilker also helps staff by steering them towards helpful resources. 'She keeps me aware of a lot of professional reading I could do,' Saxton said. 'She helps me keep up with current issues.'

In addition to her work with the high school, Wilker is the district library media coordinator. 'She finds time to help train the other library techs at the middle schools and grade schools,' Saxton said, noting that she is working on library curriculum for elementary teachers. 'So she's not just a great Sandy High School resource; she works the whole district. The works she does is extremely important for our students.'

Wilker was quick to give credit to others for her award. 'I'm very pleased that my peers have recognized the work I do, but the most important thing to realize is that school librarians don't work in isolation. Any successes I've had have been done with the work of my colleagues at Sandy High School and the school district.'