Michelle Colte: A NextGen School Librarian!


If your image of an elementary school librarian is someone who just reads stories to children, you haven’t met Michelle Colte, School Library Journal’s 2014 School Librarian of the Year. Michelle, a 2006 alumnus, spoke to LIS students and faculty on Saturday, September 27, and shared her excitement and achievements as a next generation librarian at Hale Kula Elementary in the DOE Central District. From assisting kindergarten students with Flipgrid to capture their impressions of school to helping older students connect with Parkour experts via Google hangouts, Michelle has created a new kind of library environment.

Creative play is a critical feature in her work. Michelle emphasizes the importance of learning and critical thinking that builds on exploration and questioning. She encourages everyone to just “jump in” and to be creative. She insists that students need to know that it’s okay to fail and that it’s a critical part of learning. In her hour-long talk, Michelle shared an inspiring array of experiences that combined technology with experimentation and problem solving. Whether it’s third graders using Minecraft to create their own communities or getting all grades involved in the Cardboard Challenge, Michelle is continuously introducing new tools and strategies that benefit her teachers and students. She credits her forward-thinking principal, Jan Iwase, for challenging everyone to embrace new ideas and emerging technologies. For example, Hale Kula was one of the first DOE schools to adopt Google Apps for Education.

See two clips (“Creating” and “Community“) of her presentation that highlight her philosophy about learning as creative exploration and collaborative activity. If you wish to access her entire presentation, contact Dr. Michael Brian Ogawa, ICS faculty specialist at ogawam@hawaii.edu. He videotaped the session for LIS.