To really understand why someone receives the Miss Rumphius Award you have to know the story of a picture book it's named after, according the most recent recipient of the award.
'Miss Rumphius', by Barbara Cooney, tells the story of a character that spreads seeds to make the world a more beautiful place, just as librarians do for students.
This year's award was given to Millburn's own high school's librarian, LaDawna Harrington, for a unique program she established for ninth-graders and fifth-graders, Stories by the Young: Storytelling Across Grade Levels.
In the program, a fifth-grade class at Glenwood wrote original stories to give to a high school freshman class for editing.
"All of this was a year long process that integrated the core content of each of those grade levels," Harrington said.
The elementary students researched fairy tales, folktales and countries and culture, ultimately creating their original tales, while the high school students learned the different elements of story telling. The project culminated with a storytelling festival for the elementary students by the freshman.
"The fifth-graders kept asking me throughout the year when the students were coming to perform their stories," Harrington said.
MHS English teacher Jane Kade, nominated Harrington for the award. Harrington, Kade said, "naturally collaborates and reaches out to the faculty in every discipline, making our teaching much more effective."
The New Jersey Center for the Book presented the award to Harrington at the New Jersey Association of School Librarians' annual conference in Long Branch on Dec. 1. Harrington was also a presenter at the conference, along with Glenwood Media Specialist, Shea Stansfield, speaking about their yearlong partnership.
"I love working collaboratively with the teachers at the high school," Harrington said. "But it is also wonderful when you can work across grade levels. It just brings a whole different level to the township and the children in this township that just makes education flow one grade into the next. "
The award honors librarians, school media specialists and educators that spread ideas and literacy to students in a unique way.
“In our 'easy-button' world of 'googling' it is often difficult to provide rich learning experiences that challenge our students through creative instruction and relevant learning tasks that enable our students to make an investment in their learning," Millburn High School Vice Principal, Dr. Robert Keenan added. "Ms. Harrington does not shrink from this challenge as she partners with colleagues to integrate curriculum content.”