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Shining stars: Literacy leaders honored

Posted Sept. 14, 2017

The 11th Annual Literacy Leaders Awards were presented by the School of Library and Information Science Sept. 8, 2017, at the South Carolina State Library.  The awards honor individuals and groups who have had a statewide impact on literacy in South Carolina. Their contributions include:

  • Developing and implementing innovative and creative approaches to literacy education.
  • Establishing models of best practices in literacy education.
  • Providing service to underserved groups and communities.
  • Providing funding and support for these kinds of programs.
  • Making other statewide contributions deemed appropriate by the Committee.

2017 Literacy Leader Awards


Formed in 2008 in a collaborative effort between BlueCross Blue Shield, the University of South Carolina and IBM, IT-oLogy has made significant contributions in advancing technical and digital literacies which are critical to today's students and their ability to function in a 21st Century environment. IT-oLogy has provided more than 49,000 students opportunities to investigate the ever-changing and fascinating world of technology through school programs, career fairs, summer camps, Saturday classes and workshops that provide high quality education.

Additionally, educators have had the opportunity to enhance their understanding and use of technology through conferences, trainings and workshops. Their empowerment as educators to use technology effectively in the classroom, to encourage student career options and to improve their effectiveness as professionals has been invaluable to the overall education effort in our state.

Greenville Wordsmiths

Started in 2012 by Adrienne Burris, Greenville Wordsmith's vision is that "all children in Greenville Country, regardless of social class, address, or learning difference can be a published author." Serving children ages 7-14, they have reached more than 1,000 students already through programs like "Staycation: InSchool Program," their "Saturday Writing Club," and their Wordmobile — a recently-renovated mobile creative writing lab.

The Saturday Writing Club meets twice-monthly with volunteer writers, artists and educators to help approximately students publish a professional-quality book of their own stories and poetry. A third of the 18 spots are reserved for students with special educational or behavioral needs. Greenville Wordsmiths' desire to instill students with the idea that writing can be fun and exciting instead of a tedious chore is changing lives in Greenville County. 

Scholastic Soccer Program

The Scholastic Soccer Program was developed by the Carolina Survivor's Clinic, which provides comprehensive care to refugees who are survivors of torture. Originally working to provide health screenings to refugees from war-torn areas, the clinic began sponsoring after-school tutoring followed by soccer practice or a game for children ages 6-18. The tutoring includes English language learning, and is also divided by age and school topics. 

Approximately 200 volunteers manage the program which has grown from six to 60 kids in just one year. The program utilizes the mind/body approach to wellness and encourages learning in the midst of play. They are working with schools to develop a tutoring cirriculum mapped to educational standards, an effort in which librarians are an integral part. The Scholastic Soccer Program represents a unique and targeted approach to literacy, combined with the building of community to exponentially increase its impact. 

2017 Peggy Parish Award

The Peggy Parish Prize honors individuals who have made a personal impact that increases child literacy in South Carolina. The award includes a monetary prize of $500, which is awarded to recipients who demonstrate their impact through activities such as: 

  • Implementing or expanding innovative programs or approaches to increase literacy in children.
  • Encouraging a child’s love of reading through the involvement of a parent or caregiver.
  • Establishing or expanding programs for under-served community groups to increase child literacy.
  • Creating programs that successfully use Peggy Parish’s notion of an “open window” timeframe to encourage reading in children.

This prize is offered in Peggy Parish’s memory to honor those who demonstrate the imagination, creativity and energy to help the children of South Carolina become life-long readers. The 2017 recipients of the award are:

Heather McCue

Heather McCue is a constant champion for children and families and has been an agent of positive change during the 13 years she has worked at Richland Library.

Among her many accomplishments: McCue inititated a city-wide campaign to increase financial literacy knowledge after noticing increased financial struggles in the families who visit the library. She helped lead a team of library colleagues on a $78,000 year-long grant which organized workshops for 300 adults and taught financial literacy to 1500 children.

McCue also implemented a pilot internship program with USC's Masters of Social Work interns in which they developed and distributed an Emergency Services Guide which helps link families to needed resources. Additionally, she created a Tween Advisory Group in which she serves as a friend and mentor to children as they  navigate their early teenage years — encouraging them, teaching them, and giving them a safe space to participate in programs.

Susan Morris

Susan Morris is the school librarian at St. Matthews K-8 in Calhoun County. Her library is not only the heart of the school, but of her small rural community.  She has formed strong partnerships with the Calhoun County Library, the SC  State Library and the University of South Carolina.  She employs innovative methods and makes decisions with her students' best interest in mind.

Morris has been a strong supporter of Cocky's Reading Express. At the first family literacy event, more than 500 people attended from her school alone.  She used her knowledge of new technologies to support CRE's pilot program which provided iPads loaded with ebooks to first grade classrooms.

Under her leadership, her library hosted 10 family literacy nights which were attended by almost 1,900 participants and helped distribute 5,000 new books to children and familieis. 

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