High honors: Camelot principal receives statewide award

Camelot Elementary School principal Sharon Stenersen doesn’t see what the hoopla surrounding her Principal of the Year award is all about.

The way she sees it, she’s being honored for something everyone should be doing.

Selected by the Washington Library Media Association (LMA) as Elementary Principal of the Year, Stenersen was honored for the work she does in promoting literacy, access to library resources, and to support her school’s library media center.

“Selection is related to common goals between the LMA and school principals,” Stenersen said. “They look for skills related to literacy and providing access for people to use the library resources. ...When you look at it that way, the goals they have are not unlike the goals for any person in education. I can’t imagine that every principal wouldn’t support it.”

A librarian for three years, and now a principal for 17 (five at Camelot), Stenersen credits Camelot librarian Marie-Anne Harkness for the school’s success.

“It’s an honor to be selected and to be appreciated,” she said. “I work with a really strong librarian in Anne and it’s easy for us to work together. We appreciate and support each other.”

Supporting library use at school is becoming more complex as time goes on. Along with books and research materials, there are now computers and audio-visual equipment.

“The computer and the technological aids are critical resources for students to have access to,” Stenersen said. “Not only computers, but cameras, video, projection units, and digital equipment.”

However, that doesn’t mean books are passé.“Technology doesn’t get in the way of reading books,” Stenersen said. “You don’t have people reading books online. I think children and adults like the feel of the book in their hands, and they like snuggling up with a book.”

She also said readers can get up close to illustrations and the maps in a way they can’t on the screen.

“So what we do is teach kids to be critical users of media – of magazines, computers, and TV. They’re all helpful.”

It all comes down to making the library, and by extension, learning, interesting, she said. “We don’t want to just give the children the skills,” said Stenersen. “We want them to have the motivation, the yearning for it. A library and media center is at the heart of the school, and we want children to be hungry to learn.”

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