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  • Kappa Kappa Gamma award recipients.

    Kappa Kappa Gamma award recipients.

Awards honor literacy leaders

Posted September 12, 2016

USC’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, Darion McCloud, Denise Lyons and Kim Odom were honored by the School of Library and Information Science and the state’s library community Thursday, Sept. 8, at the 10th Annual Literacy Leaders Awards.

The ALL Awards, hosted by Dr. Curtis Rogers and the South Carolina State Library, celebrate South Carolinians who have “gone above and beyond” in the quest to eliminate illiteracy.

Mistress of Ceremonies Darci Strickland, WLTX anchor and alumna of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, has emceed the event for nine of its 10 years. “This is so important to me as a journalist, because I make a living with words,” she said. We honor these individuals and groups because “they understand the importance of promoting cultural understanding. They have a commitment of stewardship and they believe in encouraging all students to read good quality contemporary literature.”

Charles Bierbauer, dean of the College of Information and Communications, paid tribute to Dr. Sam Hastings, former director of the School of Library and Information Science.  He thanked her for “having crafted and created” the awards which celebrate and bring together community leaders from across the state.

Hastings created the ALL Awards  in 2007 to honor legislators and community leaders who garnered the 1.5 million dollar endowment for the Augusta Baker Chairone element of the school’s, Libraries and Literacy Initiative, a  campaign launched in 2005 to eliminate illiteracy across South Carolina.

Dr. Hastings said the trophies that award recipients receive are visual representations of what literacy efforts are meant to do.  “We raise stars in South Carolina. It’s not just a quality of life issue, it’s an economic issue,“ she said. "If South Carolina wants to be a knowledge and information economy, everybody needs to know how to read.” 

Annual Literacy Leaders Award Recipients

Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority
Retired Richland One Director of Instructional Technology Services Ida Thompson introduced Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority  as having been a “special weapon” in her arsenal for a number of years. Sorority members attended literacy events in “droves,” instigated book drives and assisted students and teachers in classrooms.

The sorority is also heavily involved with Reading is Fundamental, the nation's oldest and largest children’s literacy nonprofit. Carol Hampton Rasco, president and CEO of RIF wrote, “ I know your chapter’s work with Richland County School District 1 has had a tremendous impact on their students and families and your recognition tonight is well deserved.”

Kappa Kappa Gamma officers Emily Folder (president) and Hannah Marcoux (philanthropy chair) accepted the award on behalf of the organization. 

Denise Lyons
Denise Lyons, deputy director of statewide development for the South Carolina State Library, was honored for her "promotion of literacy efforts and advocacy for literacy support." Nonie Price, continuing education/alumni coordinator for the School of Library and Information Science, said although Lyons had many academic qualifications it is her “passion for literacy of children" which makes her so successful in her job.

Among her many accomplishments: Lyons introduced the Day-by-Day Family Literacy Calendar to South Carolina which gives parents, teachers, librarians and schools a planning tool for introducing authors and books to children and their families. She helped establish Grandfamily Resource Centers in public libraries across the state and she plans and coordinates Storyfest SC — the annual kickoff for summer reading in the state's public libraries.  

“Denise has made the extension of service to all members of  the family a part of what libraries naturally do," Price said. "We are lucky she has chosen South Carolina for her career home."

Darion McCloud
Darion McCloud was hailed as a storyteller, actor, director, educator, arts activist and children's literature activist.  He is founder and creative director of the NIA Theater Company and the Story Squad.  Story Squad is a performance driven group that addresses literacy, exposure to the arts, summer slide and entertainment suitable for everybody.

McCloud's unique approach to pulling all of this together — dance, music and spoken words aimed at educating, entertaining and inspiring is "all Darian," said Dr. Sam Hastings.  "It is his energy that makes all of this happen.” Hastings said McCloud has "committed his life to the transforming power of art and the role of story telling in literacy initiatives.”

Among his many community partners are the Homeless Helping the Homeless, the Housing Authority, Richland Library, the SC State Library, Museum of Art, Richland One School District and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 

The Peggy Parish Prize Recipient

Kim Odom received the Peggy Parish Prize, a certificate of original art work and $500 from the family of Peggy Parish. In its third year, this award is given in honor of their aunt, a native South Carolinian and author of the Amelia Bedelia book series, to someone who "demonstrates the imagination, creativity, and energy to help the children of South Carolina become life-long readers."

In her nomination letter, Pamela Cadden, children’s services coordinator of Charleston County Public Library, wrote that “one page wasn’t sufficient to share everything I’d like to about Kim’s passion, drive, ceaseless advocacy and spirit for child literacy, but then again, neither would 1,000."

Odom, manager of the John L. Dart Library in Charleston, was a partner in the efforts to obtain an UP-start grant from Enough Pie an arts advocacy and creative space-making agency — to fund an initiative to provide a book display at local  barberships, recognized in traditional Black communities as cultural centers where men and boys from every socio-economic level interact. Odom's mission was to distribute books and promote literacy outside conventional settings.

Additionally, Odom spearheads several family literacy initiatives in honor of her mentor, Cynthia Graham Hurd, who was killed in the Charleston church shootings. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.