Each spring, at our annual conference, the Adult Learning Alliance takes time to recognize and honor a few of our outstanding students, tutors, councils, and partners. We are committed to honoring their hard work, determination, and enthusiasm for adult literacy and adult education, and we are proud of their successes and thankful for their contributions.
We are pleased to introduce to the 2018 Adult Learning Alliance award winners.
Student of the Year: Christina Cook of Literacy Action of Central Arkansas
She has “a thirst for knowledge”, is how Christina’s tutors describe her, citing her “hard work, determination, and dedication” to improving her literacy. From starting Literacy Action with a 4th grade reading level, to reading at a 7th grade level, planning to go to college to become a respiratory therapist, and reading for pleasure less than two years later, her hard work, determination, and dedication are worth celebrating.
Christina has long realized the value of reading and education, both for herself and others. Like many adult literacy students, she lives on a tight budget; expenses such as buying gas to drive to tutoring sessions or to buy books to read for pleasure means her and her family may go without other things, but Christina sees this sacrifice as essential for her family’s future.
Christina’s life has changed in many ways as her literacy has increased. She enjoys reading and owns so many books she now needs a bookcase! She can read directions while cooking or assembling products and is active in her church Bible study class, even volunteering to read to the class. As her abilities grow, so does her confidence, and she has become an example to her children and community of what can be accomplished through literacy.
Tutor of the Year: Gloria Thomas of the Magnolia/Columbia County Literacy Council
Gloria goes far beyond most people’s expectations of teacher; her warmth, generosity, and open, comforting nature are why her students and colleagues refer to her as “the grandmother we wish we all had”, “a shining beacon”, “a blessing”, and simply “magical”.
She understands her students are people first. This means she treats everyone with dignity and respect. The students at Magnolia/Columbia County Literacy Council are more than just learners; they are individuals worthy of kindness, empathy, and encouragement. In her primary role as teen tutor, she encounters many who are frustrated or ashamed by their situation, and for these students, as with all students, her “care and talent in providing [them] with instruction is limitless”. Gloria is a gifted instructor who reaches her students by providing individualized training with authentic and endless support, an inspiring force recognized by everyone around her.
The First Annual Barbara Hanley Volunteer Award
The ALA is excited to announce a new, annual volunteer award named for one of Arkansas’ legends in adult literacy: Barbara Hanley. Barbara began her career in education as middle-school teacher in the Arkansas public schools, but was drawn to the world of adult education not long after. In 1982, she founded the Literacy Council of Jefferson County, in Pine Bluff, ultimately becoming Executive Director. A few years later, she assumed the role of Director of Field Services with ProLiteracy, until 2002, when she returned to Arkansas as a ProLiteracy consultant.
Barbara has served on the Arkansas Governor’s Adult Literacy Commission and on the ALA board of directors, from 1984-1988, 2002-2008, and since 2012. Her guidance has been instrumental as the Adult Literacy Councils evolved into the Adult Learning Alliance, and her institutional knowledge and experience, passion for advocacy, energy, and commitment to adult literacy is without compare.
Outstanding Business Partner Award: Citizens Bank of Batesville
The Outstanding Business Partner Award recognizes a business partner who has diligently built and maintained a strong, dependable relationship with a literacy council over an extended period of time. Citizens Bank’s commitment to literacy and the community is the embodiment of that description.
Citizens Bank of Batesville has proved an invaluable partner to the Ozark Foothills Literacy Project over the past few years. When OFLP found themselves without a place to meet or hold class and with a budget too small to secure a building or pay utilities, Citizens Bank provided an ideal solution: the bank owned a historic building in the city center, already equipped with offices that would serve as perfect classrooms for OFLP. When the structure was damaged earlier this year by a neighboring fire, Citizens Bank once again stepped in, allowing OFLP to use the bank’s community meeting rooms for months.
Since 2016, Citizens Bank has provided OFLP with a free space, utilities, and even maintenance. In addition to the great financial assistance they give, Citizens Bank also promotes OFLP’s services and tutoring, to the benefit of the entire community. They have helped create an environment of stability and security, allowing the literacy council to provide consistent, quality support to their students.
Literacy Council Excellence in Education Award: The Literacy Council of Monroe County
The Literacy Council of Monroe County has served Monroe County, in the Arkansas Delta region for 26 years. First founded by Loda Nickelson and a group of local citizens concerned about adult literacy, the Council has grown into a full-service adult educator provider; students can study reading, writing, ESL, computer and internet skills, resume writing and workforce services, and to obtain a GED. This year, the Council will expand further, to include a summer Family Literacy Program.
According to state surveys, the Delta region of Arkansas combats some of the lowest literacy rates in the state. The Literacy Council of Monroe County has been a reliable force in this area for over a quarter-century, supporting hundreds of students in attaining their educational goals.
Innovative Project Award: The Literacy Council of White County
The Literacy Council of White County has taken a unique and comprehensive approach to Family Literacy with the goal of empowering parents to engage successfully in their children’s education and literacy. The Council has grown from providing only adult literacy to family literacy and parental engagement. Programs include teaching parents how to help and support their children through classes on literacy, math, spelling, and more.
Not only does Family Literacy help children and families, the Council has seen marked improvement in their adult learners. “We have discovered our adult students make better gains and are more engaged in their learning when they can apply their skills to helping their children as well.”
The Literacy Council of White County is determined to break the cycle of generational limited literacy by offering programs and classes that foster the growth of the entire family.