Suffolk Reading Council earns award

Published 9:53 pm Friday, May 8, 2009

The Virginia State Reading Association awarded the Suffolk Reading Council with the Merit Council Award of Excellence and the Anne Henry Membership Award at its governing council meeting in Richmond last month.

“It’s quite an honor for us,” said Conjo Whitney, president of the Suffolk Reading Council. “It puts us in the forefront. It gives our council some recognition, and people can see the things that are what the council is really all about. Hopefully, it will invite or entice people to join the council to make a difference when it comes to literacy.”

The Suffolk Reading Council is a professional organization aimed at building literacy in Suffolk’s children by advocating education and community-based programs.

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The membership award honored the Suffolk council’s membership gain of more than 60 members this past year. Last year, the council had 183 members, and now it has more than 240.

Only 10 councils throughout the state earned the award of excellence, which is awarded based on a series of criteria specified by the VSRA. For example, to be an award of excellence winner, a council must have at least 10 members in the International Reading Association.

Additionally, the council must have a membership increase, partner with the local community for literacy-based projects and sponsor programs in the local schools.

Whitney said the award reflects a lot of the hard work council members have put in this year to make literacy a public topic.

“We did lots of advertising and communication work,” Whitney said. “I think the Council was very visible and active in promoting literacy this year. We offered professional development activities for teachers in the city of Suffolk. We did community projects – Books Across Suffolk and the Fathers Raising Readers programs. I think a lot of those activities enticed people to join and make a difference.”

Specifically, the Books Across Suffolk program helped bring in more than 6,000 books in just two weeks from the Suffolk Public Schools. The council partnered with the Suffolk Literacy Council for the project, which then used the books for one-on-one tutoring with illiterate adults and in its annual summer reading program for children.

“This is a great honor, and we are looking forward to continuing our work in Suffolk,” Whitney said.

For more information about the Suffolk Reading Council, contact Conjo Whitney at 923-5250.