Michelle Colte: A Next Generation 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 (to be added) 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.


Michelle Colte is SLJ’S 2014 School Librarian of the Year

Michelle Colte


Michelle Colte, 2004 LIS alumni, has been selected 2014 School Librarian of the Year by School Library Journal. Michelle is school librarian at Hale Kula Elementary in Wahiawa. This prestigious award honors K-12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and exemplary use of 21st-century tools and services. Michelle received a $2,500 cash award and another $2,500 worth of materials from Scholastic Library Publishing, the award’s sponsor.

She is featured in a cover story in the September 2014 issue of School Library Journal. The news story is available online at www.slj.com/librarianoftheyear. She stated:

I believe that being a librarian is about so much more than providing access to information and promoting literacy—it’s about helping people make connections share knowledge within the community and beyond. I hope that my passion for learning will inspire others in my field to creatively push themselves, their fellow educators and students in their schools.

Award nominations were judged by a panel of school librarians, journal editors, and industry professionals from Scholastic Publishing, and the International Society for Technology in Education.

Among Hawaii’s school librarians, Michelle is widely acknowledged as a tech innovator. She possesses an insatiable and infectious curiosity about how far she can stretch herself and others in using technology to transform learning. Last year, she was one of 50 educators worldwide selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy held in Sydney, Australia.

Violet Harada, professor emerita, said, “Michelle is a visionary leader whose creativity and drive have motivated innovative practices. She embraces a strong commitment to her school community of students, faculty, and parents; and she engages everyone in actualizing a shared dream to prepare digital citizens, who are confident, resourceful, and caring human beings.”