2014 Annual Literacy Leaders Award Winners

September 9, 2014

COLUMBIA, SC – The Annual Literacy Leaders Awards were presented by the USC School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) on September 9, 2014 to individuals and/or groups that 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




Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students toward Effective Role Models) is an organization that has developed and implemented innovative approaches to literacy education, established best practices in literacy education, provided services to underserved groups and communities, and provided funding and support of these kids of programs.

The Call Me MISTER program at Clemson University began in 2000 with the goal of placing more male African American elementary teachers from diverse cultures and backgrounds in the classroom. The program has graduated 150 MISTERs who are teaching in SC schools.

This program focuses on love of reading and learning with an emphasis on math and literacy skills and reading recovery. The core classroom philosophy is that every child has qualities to be developed. In addition to the classroom, MISTERs work with after school programs, volunteer in the community, and work with academic coaches each week.

The program has expanded to include 17 other universities and technical colleges in SC and programs in 7 additional states.


Dr. Dianne Johnson

Dr. Johnson, a member of the USC English Language and Literature Department, has spent the last 20 plus years teaching, reading to children, and writing books to encourage reading and literacy—not just for children, but for everyone. Her love for words and telling stories through books has inspired hundreds of children in elementary schools throughout the state.

Dr. Johnson’s pen name is Dinah Johnson. Her book that celebrates the color black and its magic and fun—Black Magic—teaches us all about the positive aspects of the color black. Her book that celebrates the beauty of African American hair—Hair Dance—inspires children to love their hair. All Around Town: The Photographs of Richard Samuel Roberts is a picture book of the African American community of Columbia in the 1920s and 1930s while Quinnie Blue and Sunday Week celebrates family relationships. Sitting Pretty: A Celebration of Black Dolls is a collection of poetry for each doll in Dr. Johnson’s personal collection. Each doll is named for people in her life and the poems highlight their personalities. The Best of the Brownies’ Book is Dr. Johnson’s anthology that includes pictures of what life was like for young African Americans in the early 20th century. Her writing teaches history and explores current issues that encourage young people and their families to read and learn.


Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry

For some forty years, Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry (LVL) has been at the forefront of the effort to provide the citizens of greater Beaufort County with reading, writing, and speaking skills essential for success in the family, the workplace, and the community. The organization has dedicated itself to creating awareness of the enormity of the literacy challenge in the area; to providing leadership in its service area and with other organizations offering literacy programs elsewhere; and to offering substantial instruction and other programs to the community.

Beaufort County, one of the wealthiest and best educated county populations in the state, has 11% of its population who lack basic prose literacy skills (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009); neighboring Jasper County has 27% of its population similarly challenged. Nearly 20% of Beaufort County’s school population is Latino.

From its beginnings in 1973, LVL has aggressively confronted the need for improving the literacy skills of the community. There are now programs that are designed to serve a number of particular segments of the community including basic education programs for adults, preparation for US citizenship, education for English for speakers of other languages and workplace literacy programs.


The Inaugural Peggy Parish Prize

The Peggy Parish Prize honors individuals who have made a personal impact that increases child literacy in South Carolina. Two Prizes of $500 each will be awarded tonight.

Successful recipients will 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 being 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.


Peggy Parish Prize Winners

Ida Thompson

Throughout her professional career as a school library media specialist, consultant, and district director, Ida Thompson has displayed a compassion for the role of libraries and books in the lives of students. For over twenty-five years, she has coordinated the Richland School District One Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) Program, one of the largest multi-site programs in the country serving over 12,000 students and distributing over 40,000 new books annually. The RIF Program has received many national honors under her leadership and continues to enhance the district’s literacy focus.

Engaging students requires effort, creativity and persistence. Ida has combined these qualities into a special event called Reading Rocks, which has become the district’s annual literacy celebration. Under her leadership, the program has won numerous honors including a special commendation by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Reading Rocks provides free books to students, features nationally renowned authors and illustrators, local authors, vendors, and an array of interactive games, displays and community groups.

She is a staunch advocate for her district’s school library media programs, securing additional funding to upgrade and maintain quality print and electronic book collections, ensuring that students have access to high quality reading materials at all levels.

She gives countless volunteer hours supporting a wide range of literacy events, including helping to coordinate the Statewide READ-IN, serving on the planning committee for the Annual S. C. Book Festival and Augusta Baker Celebration of Stories. She serves on the Richland Library Board of Trustees (where she serves as Treasurer) and is a two-time president of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians. She is a member of the American Library Association and AASL, and often assists with logistics for the Coretta Scott King Book Award Breakfast. She was recently elected Vice-President of the Columbia Writers Alliance and seizes every opportunity to promote reading and literacy events in her district and the community.

Ida believes that literacy is the great equalizer, opening doors for students to explore and grow. She embodies and displays the tenacity to keep a focus on reading, understanding that readers become leaders who can change the world.

Leslie Tetreault

Leslie Tetreault has been Manager of the Children’s Room at Richland Library since 1986 and is known for her passion and fierceness when it comes to pursuing her mission to improve the lives of children through her work as a librarian. She strives to achieve this by giving children the best books; the best service and letting them know they are valued.

Under Leslie’s leadership many innovative programs have been implemented. One of the most outstanding examples is All Around Town: All Around the State, a literacy initiative that gives at-risk third grade students a book and builds on that book to give them experiences that broadens their world in so many ways. This initiative began with the City of Columbia’s program Together We Can Read that Leslie saw as an opportunity to really engage children in literacy. Through passion and persistence, she convinced the city and Richland School District One to expand this program. 2,000 children took buses to the Columbia Museum of Art where they met the author of All Around Town: The Photographs of Richard Samuel Roberts, Dinah Johnson, heard her present, toured the galleries and made art inspired by the photographs of Richard Samuel Roberts. The event was a huge success and it impacted the children greatly, giving them an autographed copy of a book, a chance to meet the author and an experience they will never forget. It also stoked Leslie’s fire. To date, this program has continued to grow with more than 1,500 children from counties like Richland, Orangeburg, Newberry, Fairfield, Calhoun and Kershaw participating. These children have shared the impact of this program: “This experience makes me want to explore the world and the library” and most telling, “This is my first real book.”

This program is innovative, encouraging and definitely connects with underserved communities.



About the S.C. State Library

The South Carolina State Library is the primary administrator of federal and state support for the state’s libraries. The Library is a national model for innovation, collaboration, leadership and effectiveness.  The Library’s mission is to optimize South Carolina’s investment in library and information services. In 1969, as the result of action by the General Assembly, the State Library Board was redesignated as the South Carolina State Library and assumed responsibility for public library development, library service for state institutions, service for the blind and physically handicapped, and library service to state government agencies. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Library is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other sources.  For more information, please visit www.statelibrary.sc.gov or call 803-734-8666.