Julie Hembree, librarian, Alexander Graham Bell Elementary
Kudos to Julie Hembree, Lake Washington School District’s “Staff Star” for January 2013
You would never know it now, but a few years ago, Bell Elementary librarian Julie Hembree was not a huge fan of technology. She didn’t do much on the computer and had little desire to learn. Completing technology training in another school district was so frustrating for her that she was almost in tears trying to get her assignments done.
Today, Julie is a front-runner in the use of technology in her library. She has created an award-winning library blog called Bell Bulldog Readers. This blog has been visited by over 45,000 unique visitors since 2010. She uses this site to engage her entire school in reading and writing, and she has even taught other librarians and teachers around the district to start their own blogs.
Students at Bell explore the use of technology in the library, by creating “book trailers” or videos about the books that they are reading, encouraging other students to read those books. These trailers are then posted on “SchoolTube,” an online channel like “YouTube” that is reserved for educational materials for students around the country to enjoy. The sample video that Julie created about the book, “One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate even caught the attention of the author, who made a special visit to the school last spring.
In addition to the recognition that Julie has received from those inside the district, Julie was named the runner-up in the area of Collaboration in Microsoft's Partners in Learning U.S. Forum. This annual event recognizes innovative teachers and school leaders who creatively and effectively use technology in their curriculum to help improve the way kids learn and to increase student success. Julie is one of 16 educators around the country who have been selected as winners of the forum.
Out of thousands who applied, 100 educators from 25 states attended the event to compete for the opportunity to represent the United States at the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Prague from November 28 through December 1, 2012. The 16 winners of the U.S. Forum, including Hembree, attended the Global Forum. (Click here to read more about the Forum).
In addition to being a leader in the use of technology, Julie also is known for being flexible in the face of change. Bell Elementary has been under construction for much of the past two school years as a new school is being built. In addition, they have had three different principals in the past three years. “She has made us all realize that we can do lots of great things despite our circumstances,” said a co-worker who nominated Julie for this recognition.
“I embrace change. I find change to be invigorating. It makes me grow as both a teacher and a librarian,” said Julie.
When asked the favorite part of her job, Julie says that she loves matching kids to books. “Every child is a reader at heart. If they are reluctant to read that is only because they haven’t had a book that reached them yet,” said Julie.
Julie started out as a classroom teacher in 1985 and has taught many grade levels from first grade through high school English. She served as a first grade teacher and reading specialist in Issaquah School District before becoming a librarian and moving to Bell Elementary. This is her eighth year at Bell.