Each winner was presented with their award on October 7th at the North Carolina School Library Media Association conference in Winston-Salem. Gardner received a plaque and certificate for $1,000 in books and resources for the school media center from Follett Resources. Kato received a plaque and a $1,000 Orchard software certificate from Hart, Inc. Kato and Gardner had to win at the county level before proceeding on to the state level.
Kato has been a principal at Farmville since 2009. He has worked hard to encourage reading with students, but also supports the use of technology, constantly striving to get the Media Center to meet 21st century standards. In Kato’s recommendation letter, it said that Kato takes an “active role in the activities in the Media Center, everything from teacher collaboration to small reading groups, which shows students and staff how important Mr. Kato feels about the Media Center; he sets an example.”
“I was shocked when I won at the county level, but even more shocked to win at the state level,” Kato said. “I feel immense honor to be able to represent Pitt County and our state. It is truly a privilege.”
Gardner has been working at Ayden-Grifton for the last 12 years. She serves on the Media and Technology Advisory Committee, Planning and Leadership Committee, AGHS Technology Team, and District Media and Technology Advisory Committee. Gardner has earned numerous grants totaling more than $150,000 in the last five years to enhance the Media Center and technology throughout the school. In Gardner’s recommendation letter it said, “Karen is an outstanding representative of all that a media specialist should be. She works tirelessly to build the program and support teaching and learning at Ayden-Grifton High School.”
“It is fulfilling and exciting to be recognized by both my peers in Pitt County and my peers in the state of North Carolina,” Gardner said. “To me, the award means I have made a difference.”