LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Shannon Walters

Position: Librarian
School: Burlington High School
School District: Burlington School District
City, State: Burlington, VT

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Shannon Walters was nominated by her supervisor and long-time friend, Karen Taylor Mitchell.

Ms. Walters is a full-time librarian in the Burlington School District who is currently at Burlington High School after serving at various BSD middle and elementary schools for many years.

"As her long-time friend, I have watched Shannon's passion, generosity and commitment with her students for two decades as she has made each library the heart of that school community," Mitchell said. "She has brought advanced vision and technical skills to the entire district, writing grants and wiring computers in her spare time to advance BSD's digital capabilities."

Ms. Walters is an incredible asset to her district, and students of all ages adore her, including her past students, many who are now adults and some of Vermont's best school librarians.

According to Mitchell, Ms. Walters is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. She is very modest, and few people know the extent of her talents or commitment. She has won a NASA national first prize for a science curriculum she designed a few years ago. She also keeps a personal lending library of technology to supplement supplies for underfunded schools and nonprofits. Ms. Walters has incredible credibility among the local tech/maker community and other educators because she is always up-to-date on the latest robotics and electronics. She is an expert and a devoted advocate for inspiring young people to read, research and understand the more traditional library functions.

"Because of her unique blend of technology, vision, leadership, organization, and love of teaching, I leapt at the chance five years ago to hire her as co-Director of the Governor's Institute on Information Technology, one of the most challenging jobs in our organization," Mitchell said. "This 8-day intensive residential program for Vermont high school students needs its college-level curricula to change every year to keep up with emerging technology. Shannon not only leads this Institute, but two weekend-long Institutes in her spare time because she is so passionate about teaching."

Ms. Walters doubled the student enrollment from 40 to 80 - increasing the difficulty of her own job, simply to create more opportunities for young people. She brilliantly guides every aspect of their experience, from their learning structures and curricula, to their emotional health and excitement level. She has redeveloped the curricula regularly, introduced continuous student feedback loops so that students control their own educations, and sought out the very best in faculty and resources to make sure her students gain outstanding skills and pathways to careers. She also serves as a leader within the GIV community, selflessly contributing her expertise in topics like diversity, equity and special education to other staff so that she directly or indirectly impacts all 640 students they serve each year.

"If all teachers were like Shannon, every student would clamor to go to school, and every graduate would be chock-full of knowledge and bursting with excitement for their futures," Mitchell said.