Hastings, Dr. D.W. Penner, Glenwood and Nordale Schools
Louis Riel School Division
During her teaching career, Karen Burkett has worked with students of all ages, from Kindergarten through Grade 9. She began her career as a teacher-librarian in 2004 when she transitioned from the classroom to the school library while at Glenwood School. As a teacher-librarian, Karen provides students with value-added opportunities to explore big ideas in depth in order to develop greater understanding. She encourages students to become independent learners by helping them to construct a personal toolkit of transferable information literacy skills that will serve them well in any problem-solving situation. Karen also believes that a classroom teacher and teacher-librarian working together creates a dynamic partnership that significantly improves teaching and learning. For Karen, such instructional partnerships encourage the team to experiment with new and innovative ways of teaching – exploring inquiry models, questioning strategies, emerging technologies, backward design, and assessment for learning. She seeks out opportunities to collaborate and to support colleagues in fostering information-rich learning environments where students are engaged in their own learning.
“Karen Burkett works tirelessly in her role as teacher-librarian here at Hastings. While the largest portion of her job is here, she also supports 3 other schools in the division. Indeed, her ability to weave effortlessly between the schools providing instructional support and leadership is commendable. Karen’s leadership is visible in the many initiatives she develops and supports. She is the instructional leader spearheading many of our school based themes and providing necessary resources to enhance classroom based learning.
- Mike Stevens, Principal of Hastings School
In addition to her half-time position as teacher-librarian at Hastings School, Karen also serves three small libraries at Dr. D.W. Penner, Glenwood, and Nordale Schools in the role of itinerant teacher-librarian. In her new assignment, Karen is successfully revitalizing library culture in these small schools and re-introducing the role of the teacher-librarian through a learning commons approach that emphasizes collaborative partnerships and deep, inquiry-based learning experiences. She is playing a pivotal role in ensuring the success of our new itinerant teacher-librarian initiative that is proving to have a significant impact on school libraries where there hasn’t been a teacher-librarian presence in years.
“Karen Burkett is an outstanding Teacher-Librarian who has breathed new energy and life into our Library at Glenwood School. Her passion for the educational needs of both the students and staff at Glenwood School is truly exemplary. Karen's collaborative approach to lesson planning and assisting classroom teachers with resources and creative ideas for engaging students, has proven to be an exemplary model for teacher collaboration and cooperation at Glenwood School. Karen Burkett is an amazing educator and has done an outstanding job of balancing the role of Itinerant Teacher-Librarian. She is truly a gift for the students and staff at Glenwood School.”
-Troy Reinhardt, Principal of Glenwood School
Working with four schools, Karen has been strategic in stretching budgets further by sharing resources among the schools, advocating for bulk purchases, and maximizing public library services. The Glenwood School Library Learning Commons operates on the smallest library budget in our school division, but Karen has been proactive in securing additional funding through the development of a community partnership for the school with the Love of Reading Foundation and Chapters St. Vital, which has increased the school’s library budget x10 over a period of 6 months!
Karen has also become a technology leader in the small schools in her care by integrating new digital tools into learning and instruction. She is creative in scheduling her time in each school, so she can be available to support inquiry-based learning projects and school initiatives as needed, to facilitate just-in-time learning. When small schools did not have access to green screen technology, Karen built a large portable green screen using PVC pipes that now travels from school to school. Karen’s portable DIY green screen has introduced visual effects technique to schools that had previously not been able to explore green screening due to a lack of equipment and/or instructional support. She has been building capacity for both students and staff, as they are becoming more independent in using the technology and tools that Karen has made available through the library programs in all her schools.
Karen is a huge advocate for the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award – therefore developing a MYRCA club culture in small schools became a natural priority for her in her itinerant role. In addition to the four school-based book clubs she organizes, Karen also co-plans an annual divisional MYRCA celebration – fondly dubbed the “MOSCARS” – that is attended by 200+ students in Grades 5-8, from 18 elementary schools across LRSD.
Karen subscribes to a learning lifestyle, and sets purposeful goals for her personal professional learning. When she wants to learn something new, she identifies the best source and venue by which to develop a new skill set – and once she masters a new skill, she always turns around and shares her new knowledge with others. She is a frequent presenter at the annual IT Happens EduTech Conference and every year, she provides instructional leadership on behalf of the division by participating in a professional learning session for teachers who are new to LRSD and/or the teaching profession.
Karen Burkett is on the frontlines every day, making learning authentic and relevant for students. To honour Karen as the 2018 MSLA Teacher-Librarian of the Year is to celebrate simply great teaching – honest, organic, creative, collaborative instruction that is in itself – powerful, purposeful, and engaging. Former teacher-librarian colleague, Harriet Zaidman, observes that “Karen is a determined, organized, thinking and gifted teacher. She is a hands-on, down-on-the-floor, build-it-to-the-ceiling kind of teacher who inspires the respect and affection of her students and makes teachers line up to work with her. She is the example of someone for whom teaching children is a calling, an outstanding example for us all to admire and follow.”
Nominated by: Kathy Atkin, Coordinator of Library Services, Louis Riel School Division