Posted Sept. 18, 2014
The South Carolina Center for Children's Books & Literacy hosted the 8th Annual Literacy Leaders Awards on Tuesday evening. The ceremony honors individuals and programs that have had a statewide impact on improving literacy in South Carolina.
This years awards included the Inaugural Peggy Parish Prize given to two individuals who have personally improved child literacy in South Carolina.
Ida Thompson was awarded one of the Peggy Parish Prizes for her role as a literacy advocate. For the last 25 years, Thompson has helped get books into the hands of children by coordinating the Richland School District One Reading Is Fundamental program. The program has served over 12,000 students and distributes over 40,000 new books annually. Thompson created Reading Rocks, a literacy celebration for the Richland School District One that brings together national and local authors, interactive games and provides free books to students. "Literacy is the foundation of success for everyone. It's the common element that ensures us of having an opportunity to do good things for ourselves and for our community", says Thompson. She believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to be successful and that begins with having the opportunity to read.
Leslie Tetreault was the second recipient of the Peggy Parish Prize. She has been the manager of the Children's Room at Richaldn Library since 1986 and started the All Around Town: All Around the State literacy initiative. The program gives at-risk third grade students a book to engage them in reading. The program target this age group because "third grade test scores are war cities look at when they determine how many prisons to build", says Tetreault. She believes in making reading fun by making reading an experience. She helped start the City of Columbia's Together We Can Read program which brought 2,000 children to the Columbia Museum of Art where they met author Dinah Johnson and received autographed copies of her books. Tetreault believes that parents need to make reading an experience the whole family enjoys together by reading aloud from the time children are born.
Dr. Dianne Johnson has spent 20 years teaching, reading and writing for children to encourage literacy. Many of her books celebrate diversity, explore family relationships and discuss the black experience. Under her pen name, Dinah Johnson, she has authored books such as Black Magic, Hair Dance, and Sunday Week. Her writing inspires children to learn about history and to enjoy reading.
Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry was recognized for its effort in providing citizen of Beaufort County with the necessary reading, writing and speaking skills to be successful in the workplace and community. The organization provides programs in basic education, preparation for US citizenship, English language programs and workplace literacy programs. Beaufort County's schools have a 20% Latino population. Education in English for speakers of another language is one of its largest programs. The organization Director Jean Heyduck says, "The most significant impact on a child's ability to read is the mother's ability to read". Improving literacy in South Carolina must target children as well as adults.
Call Me MISTER is an organization that creates innovative ways to literacy education. The Call Me MISTER program at Clemson University began in 2000 with a focus on getting more African American male elementary teachers into the classroom. The program has expanded to include 17 other universities at technical colleges in South Carolina. Xavier Salley is a Senior at Clemson University and a member of the program. He believes that literacy is the foundation to understanding. Salley says, "I can't teach a child mathematics if he doesn't understand the language of the problem that is being asked". The MISTERs work in after school programs, volunteer in the community and work with academic coaches as part of the program.
These literacy leaders were recognized in front of friends, peers and fans for their handwork in improving literacy in South Carolina. The Annual Literacy Leaders Awards is a celebration of the people who work to give everyone the opportunity to be successful through reading.