Each year Scholastic celebrates remarkable K-12 library professionals with the School Librarian of the Year Award. Awardees are recognized for their distinguished accomplishments and the outstanding use of technology and services to further engage students in a wide range of literacies.
Diane Mokuau, librarian at Moloka‘i High School, is one of the two distinguished recipients nationwide to receive this award. Mokuau aims to create a safe and welcoming environment for her students, families and community members. One of her favorite parts of the job is creating meaningful connections through reading and special events including book fairs, poetry slams, author visits and ‘ohana nights.
Mokuau finds joy in supporting her audience through increased access to resources iand partnerships with local and national organizations that offer opportunities for students to grow and learn. She believes that through education students can better prepare for challenges and pave their own road to success.
“I am deeply humbled and greatly honored to receive this prestigious award. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen,” Mokuau said. “I plan to share our challenges and successes in addition to ensuring the need for every student to have certified librarians in their schools.”
Pre-pandemic, every corner of Mokuau’s library was often found filled with students and faculty members — sometimes with minimal standing room to spare. When the pandemic began, her library was temporarily closed. Shortly afterward, it opened back up and now serves a dual purpose as a library and classroom space.
Mokuau’s passion for her work is accompanied by many notable recognitions, including being named the first National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) librarian on Moloka‘i. In 2019 the NEA Foundation awarded Mokuau with the Hawai‘i Teacher of the Year Award and in 2016 she was the Golden Key Award recipient from the Hawai‘i Association of School Libraries. Mokuau has also initiated many programs for Moloka‘i High School including the Moloka‘i College and Career Tour Club where students have an opportunity to receive real-world experience in life after graduation. Many of her students are first-generation college students, making this program is especially important to them.
“This award highlights the wonderful things that are happening in our schools and communities and especially spotlights our tight-knit community on Moloka‘i,” Mokuau said.
In addition to her distinguished award, Mokuau will be featured on the cover of the April 2021 issue of School Library Journal and receive $2,500 in cash, digital and/or print products for her library valued at $2,500, a collection of books for the school library, and a gift of one book to every student.