Mineral Wells ISD Director of Special Program Natalie Griffin was recently honored by the district and city for receiving the Distinguished Library Service Award for School Administrators.
Griffin received the award from the Texas Association of School Librarians, which is a division of the Texas Library Association. She was nominated by MWISD Lead High School Librarian Cathy Hammond.
While she was recognized for the award back in March, MWISD Superintendent John Kuhn shared more about Griffin at this month's city council meeting.
"I could not be more proud of how she represents this town, how she represents our school district, but most of all, how much she cares about learning for our students because that is their future and it starts at libraries," Kuhn said.
As an advocate supporter of school libraries, Griffin was awarded based on her commitment to library staffing and funding, innovation and building ties between the libraries in MWISD and surrounding community.
"There are over 1,000 school districts in the state of Texas — little Mineral Wells, Texas, we have five libraries. All of the libraries had the opportunity to nominate an administrator and all of those administrators that were nominated got discussed," Kuhn said. "Out of every administrator in the state of Texas, myself included, this is your state administrator of the year."
Griffin has served MWISD for several years and has held positions of instructional coach, Travis Elementary School principal and currently the executive director of special programs. In her role, Griffin handles applications for federal grants and ensures the district is in compliance and oversees the bilingual program, dyslexia program and many others in MWISD.
"I can say without hesitation that it has been an easy task to support the library staff of Mineral Wells ISD," Griffin said at the city council meeting. "With the leadership of our head librarian Cathy Hammond, our librarians have rallied to funding to build libraries full of books to provide students access to diverse reads, integration of technology, hands-on learning through Makerspace and created a summer book mobile program for our students."
Kuhn said libraries are no longer a place to only check out books.
"Today a library is a pub of learning, hands-on learning," he said. "Our librarians are innovators, they are learning leaders in our school district and that is from kindergarten/pre-k all the way up to 12th grade. That all started because [Griffin], and she was recognized for that this year because our librarians nominated her for this award."
Griffin said in their free time, MWISD librarians have spent countless hours traveling around the city in the book mobile putting books in kids' hands and participate in various public events.
She left the the city and community with a quote from author Judy Blume: "Librarians save lives by handing the right book, at the right time, to a kid in need."
"As a city, we just wanted to partner with the school district in bragging about this accomplishment," Mineral Wells Mayor Regan Johnson said. "We're all tied to education in one way or another — we're different functions in the city, but we're not one without the other."