Marti Koller, English Department Chair at the Baldwin-Woodville High School in northeastern Wisconsin, has been named the winner of the 2015 WLA/WEMTA Intellectual Freedom Award. The award is given jointly by the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) and the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association (WEMTA).
A long-time advocate of intellectual freedom, Koller has battled censorship and educated students about the principles of intellectual freedom and first amendment rights. In her work as a classroom teacher she has incorporated awareness of free speech, censorship, and intellectual freedom into the curriculum to inform and empower students on their academic journeys and beyond into their adult lives. Koller has resisted efforts to restrict content and materials, as well as holding administration accountable for following school board policy in formal reconsideration of materials both in her classes and in others.
The authors of the nomination letter recommending Koller wrote “on multiple occasions, she has lead a charge to protect the shelves at Baldwin-Woodville High School. She has defended not only content in our district, but also the proper process of challenges” and “she has pioneered a focus on censorship issues in each of her classes…her leadership has been essential in the growth of staff, students, and community.” Furthermore, “as a result [of her efforts] I believe there is increased reluctance by school officials to circumvent the established process and arbitrarily remove or restrict materials.”
Koller will be honored at the WEMTA Awards Luncheon on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Recognition will also be given during the WLA Conference in the Fall, 2015.
Since 2010, WLA and WEMTA have collaborated to give the annual intellectual freedom award. This award recognizes the contribution of an individual or group who has actively promoted intellectual freedom in Wisconsin. Funding for the award is generously provided by TeachingBooks.net and the Center for Information Policy Research at the School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.