Kapolei Middle School librarian Carolyn Kirio doesn’t view the library as a place with physical limitations. Kirio is using technology to meet the needs of her multi-track school and her efforts garnered her national attention.
In June 2015, Kirio was named the
American Association of School Librarians Technology Pathfinder Award winner for her creative ways of making the library more accessible to her students 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She is the first librarian in Hawaii to receive this national honor. The annual award is given to one librarian in grades K-6 and one librarian in grades 7-12 nationwide. And it isn’t given out lightly — some years, the award has gone unawarded.
“We are fortunate to have a dedicated librarian who looks at innovative ways to help our students get the most out of their education,” Kapolei Middle School Principal Bruce Naguwa said. “She has expanded the reach of the library beyond its four walls.”
It started in 2010 when Kirio says she noticed that schools’ multi-track school year resulted in limited available hours for about 1,465 students. So, she came up with creative solutions to having the library available to everyone at any time.
“We have hundreds of students on break at any given time and they still need access to the resources we have here,” Kirio said. “We’ve been able to provide more to our students by incorporating learning opportunities whenever the kids need it and also wherever they might be.”
Kirio teamed up the school educators make resources, videos and other items available online. The middle school librarian also integrated on-demand videos for closed circuit TV on campus along with online resources and e-books for students and teachers.
"We have hundreds of students on break at any given time and they still need access to the resources we have here."
— Carolyn Kirio
Teachers who use Kirio’s resources have proven to motivate student creativity and support student learning. One of Kirio’s video resources is providing Internet research lessons.
"This video Carolyn created was helpful to me and my students because due to the high volume of computer testing it became difficult to have Carolyn's in-person presentation,” said grade 7 social studies teacher Nicole Ogata. “The video was perfectly tailored to my 7th graders, and I will definitely use this instructional video again next year with my students."
"I collaborate with Carolyn throughout the year on different lessons and projects,” said Valerie-Ann Shindo-Uehira, a grade 7 science teacher. “Our collaboration allows for the introduction of different technology and software to be integrated into my curriculum and is a great way to give students choices in how they want to present their final products — comics, animation, PowerPoint, etc.”
As part of the recognition, the AASL awarded Kirio $1,000 and gave $500 to the Kapolei Middle School library. “The money will be put toward the continued expansion of the library's efforts to integrate technology and flipped classroom instruction schoolwide,” Kirio said.
Kirio now is working on her doctoral degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education.
Kirio received her award on June 27, at a ceremony during the AASL conference in San Francisco. When she returned she also received a commendation from Gov. David Y. Ige.