Project READY: Reimagining Equity and Access for Diverse Youth, led by UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Professor Sandra Hughes-Hassell and Research Associate Casey Rawson, received the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award on April 9. UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Robert Blouin presented the award at Carolina’s 2018 Public Service Awards celebration on April 9.
Project READY was recognized for the strong partnership forged by researchers and educators at SILS, the Wake County Public School System, and North Carolina Central University. An Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS) grant-funded initiative, Project READY aims to create, refine, and disseminate a professional development curriculum for school librarians and other educators focused on racial equity and culturally sustaining pedagogy.
During the 2017-2018 school year, the program worked with teams of school librarians, literacy coaches, and classroom teachers from Wake County Public Schools to implement the curriculum. Using what they learned through these face-to-face sessions, the Project READY team members are now developing an online curriculum that can be used by librarians and educators across the country.
Rawson, who completed her PhD at SILS in 2017, addressed the audience at the Public Service Awards ceremony. She thanked all of Project READY’s partners, particularly Teresa Bunner and Kendra Allen (MSLS ’08) at Wake County Schools, Pauletta Bracy from NC Central University, and members of the SILS project team, including faculty members Claudia Gollop and Brian Sturm and current doctoral student Kimberly Hirsh.
“Receiving this award is an honor, but I have to say that for Sandra and me, the best reward of this work has been seeing its impact on students in Wake County,” Rawson said. “The amazing school librarians and teachers have embraced this work in ways we could never have imagined. After participating in Project READY, one high school librarian decided that the people who knew the most about the equity needs within her school were the students themselves, so she helped create a student-led equity team that is now making critical decisions for their school. One group of elementary school students did an equity audit of their school’s playground, comparing it to other playgrounds in the area and making recommendations for change. A middle school librarian led her staff in a book study of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. We have been so inspired by stories like these, and we are excited to see where this project goes in the future.”
SILS was also represented at the ceremony by Jasmine Plott, who is pursuing a master’s degree at SILS and a JD at the UNC School of Law. She was one of three students who accepted the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award on behalf of the campus organization Law Students Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, which helps survivors obtain court orders that provide protection from their abusers.