Amburn honored for reading passion

Loudon Elementary School Principal Christie Amburn reads with kindergartner Sofia Espinoza in the library.

Although an award from the Tennessee Association of School Librarians may not seem like much to some, Loudon Elementary School Principal Christie Amburn is especially proud.

One of seven statewide recognized on the Distinguished Administrator Honor Roll, Amburn ended up as valedictorian.

“To be honest, I was very surprised,” she said. “I didn’t even know such a thing existed until I got a notification that I was on the honor roll, and from that then — I knew that I was going to the banquet, I had been invited as an honor roll member, and then that’s when they announced that I was a valedictorian, so that was pretty exciting. To me, it’s not an award I’m familiar with and I’m sure most people aren’t, but books are my passion as you can see.”

In Amburn’s office is a bookcase filled with books for students.

She was nominated by LES librarian Jennifer Russell, who is a member of TASL. The award is given to school administrators who promote reading and literacy across the school in innovative ways and promote the use of the library and library resources.

“Some of the things we implemented last school year were just some reading-based incentives,” Amburn said. “So we try to reward reading with reading rewards. So when students get to a certain reading level they get to come in here and shop from my book shelf and get a book. We do points clubs so that 25 points they get to come in here and shop. We had about 10 kids this morning who made it this week so they came in here and shopped, and then at 50 points we do special lunches once a month.”

In the 2017-18 school year, LES had eight students reach 100 points in the Accelerated Reading program. Last year, Amburn’s first as principal, there were 72 students.

“We had some very young readers,” Amburn said. “We actually had some first-graders, several first-graders make it to 100 points, which meant probably they read 200 books.

“... Just that their volume of reading is up,” she added. “We don’t use this as a grade in any way. We use it to say are they reading and then are they getting some basic understanding of what they’re reading? Our library saw a huge increase in circulation of kids wanting specific books — sometimes they were having to be a wait list for books because then we didn’t have enough copies. To me it told me that they’re falling in love with reading and that’s really what I wanted.”

Michael Garren, Loudon County director of schools, believes Amburn’s recognition can only be good for the district.

“Christie receiving Administrator Valedictorian by TASL is an amazing accomplishment, and I believe it shows that she and the system value all areas of the curriculum,” Garren said. “Considering the number of schools and systems in the state, it makes me extremely proud that our principal, and ultimately our system, has been recognized.”