Congratulations to School Librarian Ashley Grillo on Certification!

Published on June 12, 2024

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                                                                                                                    June 12, 2024


                                                                 School Librarian Ashley Grillo is Certified Sustainable

                                                               The Sustainable Libraries Initiative recognizes Ashley Grillo

                                                                                        as a leader in sustainability.

Ashley Grillo


Suffolk County, NY –June 12, 2024 – Ashley Grillo from Spackenkill High School in Poughkeepsie, New York has been designated a “Certified Sustainable School Librarian” through the Sustainable Libraries Initiative’s award-winning Sustainable Library Certification Program (SLCP).

After embarking on the journey to certification at the end of 2021, high school librarian Ashley Grillo has completed the program with success. The benefits brought to Ashley’s community through her work hit all three pillars of sustainability – environmental consciousness, social equity, and financial responsibility – by innovating new projects, ensuring accessibility to the library’s services for all staff and students, and being mindful of her budget while also securing grant funding to further explore her goals.

Ashley’s care for her students is evidenced by her value for their ideas and opinions. Acting upon their suggestions, Ashley added more comfortable furniture, new checkout stations, designed a makerspace, and loosened existing policy that restricted students from moving freely within the library. These changes turned her library into a more welcoming place that allows for the growth of creativity and learning. Additionally, with the help of a couple other teachers willing to lend a hand to sustainability, Ashley undertook a project to “genrefy” her library collection: making a space more accessible for students to independently search for books and facilitated her ability to assess the needs of the school and allocate budget where resources were lacking. As a result of her actions, Ashley reports that her attendance has doubled and her inventory goes twice as fast.  

Perhaps Ashley’s proudest accomplishment is her work in curating green spaces both indoors and outdoors to promote sustainable practices at her school and generate excitement for environmentalism within her students. Ashley has implemented three indoor greenhouses that have garnered high levels of engagement. Students enjoy planting days, stopping by to check on their plants, and getting to take some home with them at the conclusion of the year. Instead of taking their plants home, students also have the option to contribute their plants to a community garden organized at a local farm by one of the middle school teachers in her district. The greenhouses also gather attention of other departments within the district: art classes use the plants as inspiration for their creations and the science department has since expressed interest in composting. Similarly, Ashley has capitalized on the growing interest and provides displays on cooking, gardening, and recycling in her library and distributes seed starter kits as prizes for occasional school challenges.

As Ashley’s mentor throughout certification, SLI advisory board member Dr. Jennifer Cannell gave Ashley praise on her achievement:

“I was particularly impressed with Ashley’s analysis of her program. She utilized the School Library Program Rubric to determine the strengths of her program and identify areas of focus. Ashley has shown herself to be a strategic thinker and has made incremental changes to her program to achieve her goals. It is clear from Ashley’s submission that she deeply values community partnerships.  She has developed relationships with colleagues from her school, district, public library, and local organizations, all with the aim of increasing learning opportunities for students.”

This accomplishment makes Ashley the tenth school librarian to complete the Sustainable Library Certification Program: an award-winning community of practice designed to provide public libraries, academic libraries, library systems, and school librarians with exclusive resources and guidelines to shift towards a cleaner, greener, and more equitable future.

Receiving her certification right at the end of the school year may have given Ashley the perfect opportunity for a break, but she’s already hard at work preparing for next year. Ashley’s students can look forwards to an expanded community garden and enhanced community gardening programs as well as programs on other topics of sustainability such as cooking and composting. From her perspective, Ashley says “There is nothing more rewarding than to hand my students the tools for becoming more sustainable and having them return saying, ‘what’s next?’”

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