Hiram Sibley from Portland, Maine

As is so often the case with genius, many of Kelley McDaniel’s ideas and innovations seem so obvious once they are put into action. Visitors to King Middle react by asking “Why doesn’t everyone do things this way?” I sometimes ask myself “Why didn’t I think of that?”. The answer to both questions is that the rest of us are not Kelley McDaniel. Kelley is the most committed, able and innovative school librarian that I have ever been around.

If I start listing all of the projects that Kelley has helped me with, we could be here for a very long time. The thing about Kelley is that she is not only a great source of
information, she is also highly skilled at planning projects and activities. Kelley combines great organizational skills with a flair for constructing engaging events and activities. On top of those two qualities, she has the kind of passion for her work that only the very educators have. Kelley puts forth an exceptional effort every single day, and so has come to be relied upon by students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members.

Kelley has been a great asset for me over the 10 years that I have known her. She has been a great sounding board, and a source of insight over the years. Kelley has a talent
for anticipating organizational issue, and holds more information about what is going on in the various school houses than perhaps anyone else. Kelley also makes a difference in the lives of students. First and foremost, she reframes how students think about themselves. When Kelley is around, everyone is a reader. It is just a matter of finding the right books to read. Beyond that, though, Kelley finds interesting and meaningful projects for students to work on, both as part of their core academic studies and as additional opportunities. Through this work, she develops
enduring relationships with students. It is not at all unusual to find high school students returning to King to talk to Kelley, or even to help out in the library.

Kelley also has a special role with local writers, illustrators and book stores. She has created a network that supports, encourages and celebrates these people. The pay off for our school is that we have a constant stream of working writers interacting with our students, and important relationships with local book stores.