Leaders Award Winners
2007 Literacy Leader Award Recipients: (l to r) Rep.
Rep. Honorable Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Rachel Hodges,
Dr. Dan Barron and Tommy Preston.
Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Rep. Lanny Littlejohn,
Rachel Hodges, Tommy Preston and Dr. Dan Barron were honored by the
University of South Carolina and the state’s library community
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007, with Literacy Leaders Awards for their
work to improve literacy in South Carolina.
The inaugural ceremony for the annual awards was
held at the South Carolina State Library. Charles Bierbauer, dean
of the College of Mass Communications & Information Studies,
presented the awards.
“Each of our honorees has recognized
that literacy is the ‘A’ in the ABCs of building a
child’s confidence, capability and prospects for success,” Bierbauer
said. “We call these leaders ‘stars’ in our literacy
initiative, but we’d like to put everyone in the state into
the constellation of stars that it will take to ensure bright futures
for our children and their families.”
The awards were created as part of the School of
Library and Information Science’s Children, Libraries and Literacy
Initiative, a $6 million campaign launched in 2005 to eliminate illiteracy
across South Carolina.
Cobb-Hunter and Littlejohn have championed the
creation and funding of the Augusta Baker Chair in Childhood Literacy,
a key component of the Children, Libraries and Literacy Initiative.
Their efforts resulted in a $1.5 million appropriation that helped
create the endowment for the chair. Cobb-Hunter, a social worker
and community activist, has represented her Orangeburg district since
1992. Littlejohn, who represents the Spartanburg area, is an educator,
having served as an elementary school principal, teacher and coach.
Hodges, a Hartsville native, created her well-known
and successful Reading with Rachel program in 1999 when she was first
lady of South Carolina. As part of the program, she visited more
than 250 classrooms in the state and distributed more than 500,000
books. Reading with Rachel was also a featured program on S.C. Educational
Radio. Hodges has been honored by the American Association of School
Librarians and the Girl Scouts of America for her literacy advocacy.
Preston, a Clemson native, is a 2007 graduate
of the university. Inspired by the Children, Libraries and Literacy
Initiative, Preston created Cocky’s Reading Express when he
was student president. The express enlisted student leaders to visit
elementary schools and libraries throughout the state to read and
provide books to young children. Cocky’s Reading Express continues
to roll-along, planning stops this fall along the I-95 corridor.
Barron, who retired as director of the School of
Library and Information Science in 2006, was the driving force behind
the Children, Libraries and Literacy Initiative. He helped craft
the initiative’s three-prong mission of research, resources
and outreach. Key components include the Augusta Baker Chair in Childhood
Literacy, the first chair at the university named for an African-American
woman; the Center for Children’s Books and Literature and its
many resources available to the education community and public; and
outreach efforts that include a statewide network of literacy groups
called Literacy Stars and Cocky’s Reading Express.
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