Stuffed bunnies, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Mother Goose, Dora the Explorer and Arthur are among the notable characters that peer out from almost every bookshelf in the library at Anne Frank Elementary School.
It’s testing week at the north Dallas school and, for the moment, the library is quiet. Outside the glass door, young students march in single file through the hallway as they take a breather from the STAAR exams. Inside, Librarian Lisa Mead is waiting for the students to return.
Talking with Mead about her classroom experience and her passion for teaching, it’s not hard to see why she was recently named the Big D Reads Librarian of the Year. An 11-year veteran of the Anne Frank Elementary faculty, Mead spent the first seven years as a classroom teacher, serving as grade level chair, a member of the Campus Instructional Leadership Team, and being named the campus’ Teacher of the Year.
“I still see myself as a teacher,” Mead said. “The biggest difference (as a librarian) is I get to teach all the students in the school. That’s my favorite thing about being a librarian; I get to positively impact the education of all the kids.”
Colleagues have high praise for Mead, describing her as passionate, committed, creative, and resourceful. In their statements of support for Mead’s Librarian of the Year nomination, teachers credit her for turning around the use of the school’s library, making it a popular gathering spot for students.
During the mornings, Mead opens the library doors at 7:15 a.m. and welcomes in students to enjoy free reading time, finish up homework, or work on projects. Throughout the rest of the day, Mead spends her time teaching library skills, collaborating with teachers, and singlehandedly managing a facility that serves 1,200 students and boasts a monthly circulation of more than 7,000 books.
Mead is especially passionate about the importance of teaching students how to use technology to find their own answers to questions. She makes sure they master research skills that will serve them throughout their school career.
“A librarian’s job is to instill a lifelong love of learning,” Mead said. “I want them to be comfortable in the library, to have ownership of the library so they learn to love to read and will continue to go to the library whenever they’re curious or just for fun.”
Principal Jonnice Legum-Berns describes Mead as amazing.
“The learning environment she has created for our students is well-organized, visually stimulating and, most importantly, welcoming,” she said.
Legum-Berns said that, under Mead’s stewardship, the Anne Frank library is a focal point enlivened by Mead’s enthusiasm, leadership, and innovation.
“Mrs. Mead is one of those gentle giants who positively impacts so many lives while instilling a love for reading and a thirst for learning,” Legum-Berns said. “I cannot think of a better candidate so deserving of representing Dallas ISD as Librarian of the Year.”