Denise has been a Library Technician for seventeen years. During that time she has worked at a variety of school libraries including Park Circle School, Radisson Elementary School, Joseph Teres Elementary, Donwood Elementary and finally at John W. Gunn Middle School. Throughout her career she has served as Divisional Union Treasurer, Vice President and Steward. She has served on countless committees such as the Divisional Amalgamation Committee, Library Technician Professional Development Committee as well as the Library Guidelines Committee.
Although all Denise’s nominators praised her work ethic and strong technical background, it is her passion for literacy, her love for her students, and her advocacy efforts that make her an exemplary role model. As Denise’s principal, Dean Finlay explains, “She is constantly pumping me for the funds in order to keep our collection current. I know that if Denise makes the trip down to my office from the library, there is a good chance that she is coming for more money. That is one of the qualities that I admire most about Denise. She has always had a clear vision of what she wants in the library and has respectfully and relentlessly gone about making it happen. Her vision has led to the development of a learning space that kids want to be a part of. Our library is an inviting space that encourages students to invest in their own learning by reading. Denise’s role in promoting literacy within the school cannot be overstated. Denise is a constant in the library, someone that staff and students have come to count on.”
Denise understands the important role libraries and library staff can have on the lives of students. Because of her efforts, according to teacher, Wayne Paton, “The students and staff at John Gunn want to access the library. Denise has built strong relationships with students. Whether it be academically inclined students or students who present challenges, Denise will find a way to make them want to return. Denise likes them and she likes her vocation, and they get that. The acquisition of library skills, procedures and expectations are acquired in a seamless fashion.”
Margo Gerus, Teacher Librarian at John W. Gunn Middle school continues, “Every year Denise takes several students under her wing in the role of Library Helpers and encourages their love of reading through conversation and collaboration.” Miles Pomaranski concurs. As he explains, “Denise is the master of the book world as it pertains to adolescent literature. Her thirst for knowledge goes unquestioned. But it’s more than just about the books. Thanks to Denise, life in our library has become about creating and fostering a supportive, nurturing environment for all students who access the space. It’s about making a connection and feeling welcome, whether it be about helping solve or resolve the troubles of the world or the spine of a damaged book. Throughout the day and over the years our library continues to remain current, vibrant and growing thanks to efforts and hard work of Denise.”
Finally, Chelsea Bretecher expresses the importance of the small acts Denise performs that make her so special. “It is in the simple things like decorating the library to ensure that it is a peaceful retreat in a hectic building. It is in the community building things like managing the book orders each month, running reading contests and guiding the MYRCA Club. It’s in the blatant acts of literacy love that can only come from someone whose heart is in the library – printing a blank book cover for each person in our school to share their favourite book and proudly putting them on display throughout the school; growing a reading tree where readers are encouraged to add a leaf reflecting their current favourite book; challenging kids to participate in making the longest reading worm ever by adding discs with book recommendations when they check in their library books during circulation.”
Denise epitomizes why the Manitoba School Library Association created this new award in 2017. Denise, as her colleagues have so eloquently explained, has a passion for libraries and actively supports her library, Teacher Librarian, faculty, and her students. As Principal, Dean Finlay, relates, “Through Denise’s efforts, in concert with those of the Teacher Librarian, Margo Gerus, the library has evolved into being one of the most popular spots in the school.”