We’re thrilled to welcome Leslie Preddy as our new Instructional Leadership Topic Center Editor. She brings with her years of experience as a librarian and active involvement in professional organizations as well as a tireless devotion to promoting reading among children everywhere. Please join us in welcoming Leslie to the fold and read on to find out what makes Leslie so successful at what she does.
Everything wonderful to happen to me professionally is because I said yes. Yes to opportunity. Yes to chance. Yes to appropriate change. Yes to developing new skills. Yes to engaging in new experiences. Yes to new additions to my professional learning network. Embracing the role of Instructional Leadership editor for School Library Connection is an exciting event in my life that has already helped to enrich my life both personally and professionally.
The U.S. Coast Guard defines situational awareness as “the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you.”* Professionally, our team consists of school library educators, school library staff, our building staff, and the youth we serve. The mission is to prepare our youth for a future of learning, reading, and engagement within their community and throughout their lives. To get there, we can’t continue to be who we were and do what we did. We must evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our communities and profession. Sometimes that means change for the library. A few years ago I realized my students’ reading motivation and abilities were deteriorating. I seized this opportunity to lead some action research within my building where we found a way to successfully engage our students and increase their time spent reading, reading interest, and reading scores on standardized tests. We knew that being situationally aware meant sharing what we had learned with other educators: through articles, resources, a book, and many conference presentations with the school librarian and classroom teachers collaboratively presenting and sharing our successful program and process. When situationally aware, there is recognition for change, need, or action, whether at the building, local, state, national, or international level, and putting together a team and action plan to do something about it.
Professionally, serendipity is working hard to be the best you can be at your job, sharing what you know, and learning with other professionals, which develops other, unexpected but beneficial opportunities by chance. When I was young in the profession, I volunteered to be a member of Indiana’s prestigious Young Hoosier Book Award nominee committee. It took a few tries, but eventually I made it onto the committee, where I then caught the attention of state leaders and soon I was state committee chair, which led to other opportunities, including state conference chair, state association president, and more. The skills I have learned through my professional leadership roles led to the development of abilities that allow me to now run a wide range of youth and community programming for my school’s students and parents, like our Family Read-In, Community Think and Make workshops, Reading Madness Month, One Book–One School–One Author, and Falcon Makerspace, just to name a few.
The Art of Yes
It’s true. I do have trouble saying no. I can say no, but I choose not to: the choice is mine. I just happen to choose to seize the moment most every time. It’s a family joke that I don’t know how to say no. My husband says he knew he wanted to marry me the moment he met me and that once he found out I couldn’t say no, he knew he had a chance.
Don’t misunderstand me. Saying no has its time and place, but it should not be our first response. There is an art to saying no. My husband has a great professional response to any request he can’t answer immediately, “Let me see what I can do and get back to you.” This perfectly neutral response allows for time to research, consider impact and influence, evaluate personal and professional issues, contemplate alternatives, and provide the most accurate and viable response. Taking on a new opportunity and responsibility is serious business. Saying yes is a commitment. For example, I never thought of myself as a writer, and neither did my high school English teacher. It never occurred to me to write articles, books, or blogs, but when I was contacted years and years (and years) ago by a magazine editor who had heard of something I was doing and felt it important to share with the profession, and even though I was terrified, I said yes. I’ve been sharing through writing, speaking, and consulting ever since and can’t imagine it any other way. It’s giving back and sharing with the profession I love.
Embracing opportunities allows the expansion of developing skills, diversifies thinking, and grows professional learning networks. It keeps the profession interesting, valuable, and moving forward. Thank you for welcoming me into the SLC family. I cannot wait for what experiences, learning, and growth await through this professional growth opportunity.
*U.S. Coast Guard, “Team Coordinating Training Guide” https://www.uscg.mil/auxiliary/training/tct/chap5.pdf
Leslie B. Preddy, MS, has been the school librarian at Perry Meridian Middle School in Indianapolis, IN, since 1992 and has served as an adjunct professor for Indiana University, Indiana State University, and IUPUI. She has presented webinars and is a frequent speaker and consultant at local, state, national, and international education conferences and events. She has published many articles in professional journals, co-created online resources for educators, and is the author of SSR with Intervention: A School Library Action Research Project, Social Readers: Promoting Reading in the 21st Century, and School Library Makerspaces. Preddy is a recipient of many awards including AASL’s Collaborative School Library Media Award and Perry Township Schools Teacher of the Year. She is Past President of the American Association of School Librarians and the Association of Indiana School Library Educators (AISLE). Preddy is a recent recipient of two grants for her school library makerspace from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Indiana State Library.