RUNNERS UP – 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Award

Ms. Maria Teresa Bautista, “Read and Learn”
State College, PA

 

At Bacnotan National High School in La Union, Philippines, students outnumber teachers 45:1 in the classroom. Perennial floods disrupt classes. The number and quality of books at the school are often insufficient to meet the struggling readers’ needs. As a result of all this, students fail to meet reading requirements, let alone have the confidence to complete a book. This is what Maria Teresa Bautista set out to change. Her Read and Learn program pairs younger students with older Big Brothers/Big Sisters who guide them through reading, giving them a judgment-free forum within which they can improve their reading skills and their self-confidence. A love of reading soon follows after.

With its community-building spirit, the Read and Learn program resulted in 70-80% improvement on reading performance in its first year, with continued increases to date. Students additionally show off their improved skills at a reading recital, sparking pride and accomplishment both within themselves and in their community.

We recognize Maria Teresa Bautista as  a Runner-Up in the 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Award for her efforts to build independence and confidence through the act of reading among students in the Philippines.

Ms. Dawn Bush, “Birth-to-Five Program”
Allentown, PA

 

Dawn Bush continuously promotes the special bond formed between a parent and child while reading through her Birth-to-Five Program at Casa Guadalupe in Allentown, PA. It’s the kind of bond is one that not only enriches their relationship, but it also encourages future academic success. For the families Casa Guadalupe serves, the lack of books prevents that bond from forming, as the little money they have must go to life essentials before luxury items like books can be purchased.

That’s where the Birth-to-Five Program comes in. At every quarterly WIC visit, the families are given a book to take home with them, along with lessons about the benefits of reading and related tips. Parents additionally sign a pledge agreeing to read to their child for 20 minutes a day. According to many of the parents, without the Birth-to-Five Program, they would not have books in their homes.

Dawn says that in the beginning, children would prefer a sticker over a book during their appointments. Now it is the other way around. It is for this that we recognize her as  a Runner-Up in the 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Award.

Ms. Betsy Dickey, “Rwinkwavu Community Library & Learning Center”
Dorset, VT

 

Betsy Dickey has spent the past nine years ensuring that the community in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda, has not only the proper access to information at its Library and Learning Center, but also programs that inspire literacy, creativity, and self-realization. The Library holds, among others, literacy, computer, and visual art classes, as well as music programs and storytelling opportunities. With its many partnerships and celebration of all things literacy, the Library provides a rich environment in which its visitors can not only thrive, but thrive with education.

Ninety-five percent of Rwandans in Rwinkwavu are subsistence farmers, and schools lack the infrastructure and trained teachers that its students so desperately need. For a community striving to lift itself out of economic and educational poverty, the Library has become a guiding light towards doing just that.

Betsy’s inspiring work in improving literacy and access to education in Rwanda leads us to recognize her as a Runner-Up in the 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Award.

Mr. John Farrell, “Bridges of Peace and Hope”
Hillsdale, NY

 

While Bridges of Peace and Hope has only been around for 10 years, its founder John Farrell has spent the past 25 years advocating for understanding, literacy, empathy and more. With his organization, John promotes peace and understanding across the world using media, music and stories.

Believing that stories are “flames that light the world,” John and Bridges of Peace and Hope connect students and teachers through physical and virtual meetings in which they share their stories. More often than not, common threads are found. These stories inspire others to take initiative and either help fundraise, provide books, or simply share their own stories. Recent fundraising efforts have lead to the construction of classrooms for the Mukwashi School in Zambia.

We recognize John Farrell as a Runner-Up in the 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Award for his creative and enriching non-profit that continues to grow a community of globally-aware and book-loving advocates for peace.

Ms. Sue Guiney, “Writing Through”
London, England

 

Whereas students in Cambodia normally sit in classrooms focused on rote memorization of facts, Sue Guiney’s Writing Through program engages the students in a literacy-rich environment where ideas are posed and challenged. Students start to realize the power of imagination, and the power of stories. Though a young organization (it was created in 2014), Writing Through blazes an inspiring trail for students to learn how to express themselves in English.

Using a collaborative method between instructors and students, Writing Through holds workshops that expand English fluency and promote creativity. By building confidence through a supportive and imaginative space, Writing Through allows students to gain self-confidence and literacy skills that aim for success.

Sue Guiney is recognized as a Runner-Up in the 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Award for her illuminating use of poetry and stories to encourage English literacy among students in Cambodia.

 

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