Follett Challenge Winners Unveiled, Honored

Florida elementary school's 'Creating A Culture of Literacy' entry earns top spot

Nov 03, 2011, 11:00 ET from Follett International

RIVER GROVE, Ill., Nov. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Almost exactly one year after Chuck Follett, President and CEO of Follett Corporation, issued the $100,000 Follett Challenge to find the K-12 industry's most innovative school libraries, the six winners were unveiled and honored Oct. 27 in a ceremony at the Minneapolis (Minn.) Convention Center.

Held in conjunction with the opening of the 2011 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Conference, Follett and his colleagues were on hand, joined by a host of industry thought leaders, to award a total of $100,000 worth of products and services from Follett, a global education solutions provider, to the winning schools, as selected by a panel of judges from nearly 125 submissions.

The Follett Challenge was designed to reward school libraries for applying technology, content and creativity in ways that engage students, foster literacy and promote critical thinking.  The winners (schools, districts, entry titles, entrant name/title, and award) are:

  1. Ocoee Elementary School; Orange County Public Schools; Ocoee, Fla.; "Creating A Culture of Literacy"; Isabel Chipungu, Media Specialist; $35,000.
  2. Eisenhower Middle School; North East Independent School District; San Antonio, Texas; "21st Century Learning Libratory"; Teresa Diaz, Librarian; $20,000.
  3. Flat Rock Middle School; Henderson County Public Schools; East Flat Rock, N.C.; "History Our Way"; Jenn Northrup, Media Coordinator; $15,000.
  4. Swan Valley High School; Swan Valley School District; Saginaw, Mich.; "Mastering the Art of Literacy at SVHS"; Kay Wejrowksi, Library Media Specialist; $10,000.
  5. Bennett School Library; Bennett School District; Bennett, Colo.; "A 21st Century Library At Its Best!"; Casey Veatch, District Librarian; $10,000.
  6. Randall Carter Elementary School; Wayne Board of Education; Wayne, N.J.; "Books and Beyond"; Laura Healy, Media Specialist; $10,000. (Note: This entry was the People's Choice Winner for best video submission based on public voting on the Follett Challenge web site.)

For Isabel Chipungu, media specialist at Ocoee Elementary in Ocoee, Fla., the realization that her Follett Challenge entry, "Creating A Culture of Literacy," was judged as the overall winner served as an affirmation of her belief in the role of libraries.

"Receiving this award is so exciting for our school community as it shows the world what we have been doing to implement a successful library media program at our school," Chipungu said. "The Media Center is the heart of our school and we not only support reading and teach literacy skills, but we encourage and reward student success."

As part of her program, Chipungu, who works with grades kindergarten through fifth, produced a play based on Eric Carle's book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," to help encourage academic engagement through the arts. She combined that by weaving in school-wide reading challenges every nine weeks, along with using digital whiteboards, databases and storytelling to improve skills and keep learning fun. Post-test data showed that 100 percent of the students made learning gains.

"This award means that we can add more relevant and exciting materials to our program and continue the momentum for years to come," Chipungu said.  "This achievement was the result of the whole school practicing our motto – 'Focused on Learning & Achieving Success ... Everybody Everyday'."

Chuck Follett recalled the idea for the Follett Challenge came to him two days before he was scheduled to speak before librarians and other educators at last October's SLJ (School Library Journal) Leadership Summit in Chicago, and said he created the program to spotlight the importance of librarians and media specialists at a watershed moment for 21st century school libraries across the country.

"This started as a challenge to school librarians to showcase the link between library programs and student success, but it has evolved into so much more," Follett said.  "In the end, we may have put the spotlight on six winners, but in reality there are so many champions here.  We want to salute all those librarians and media specialists who, despite economic pressures, are ensuring their libraries are alive and thriving within our schools and communities."

For more information on the Follett Challenge, visit

About Follett

Follett Corporation is a $2.7 billion, privately held company that provides products, services and solutions to the educational marketplace. Follett Corporation was founded in 1873, and today is headquartered in River Grove, Illinois.

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SOURCE Follett International