Heidi Benton, James B. Edwards Elementary School (JBE) teacher-librarian, has received the 2021 Intellectual Freedom Award from the South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL). She was nominated by Christy James, District Library and Media Services Coordinator for Charleston County School District (CCSD).
This award recognizes those who advocate for the First Amendment Rights of students, teachers, and citizens of South Carolina. The South Carolina Association of School Librarians supports and upholds the U.S. Constitution, the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, and the freedom to read. The Intellectual Freedom Award is the celebration of this advocacy.
“Heidi Benton has had a huge impact on our school community,” said Principal Robin Fountain. “She has broadened the thinking of students, teachers, and parents alike by introducing books with diverse characters and ideas in a kind and nonjudgmental way.”
“Heidi is a leader among our teacher librarians and at her school,” said Christy James, Library Media Services Coordinator and District Textbook Coordinator. “I'm grateful for her commitment to make sure the library is a place where all her students feel welcome and seen. She's made the library an important part of building and growing the inclusive community at James B. Edwards.”
Benton shared her journey and learning with others, including a session at the SCASL Summer Institute that was well attended and very well received.
“There were many lessons learned, but the most powerful one is that a dedicated librarian can help create a more inclusive community by actively promoting books and programs,” added James. “That provide mirrors for students to see themselves and their families and windows to help them see others in our global community.”
“Everyone's story matters, everyone's life deserves to be shared, and identity is never inappropriate,” said Benton.