Council of the Federation Literacy Award

2012 Council of the Federation Literacy Award Recipient - Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society (LASS)

Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society
When LASS first evolved, it approached the scene with the attitude of "what can we do to help or support you" rather than "this is what we’re doing." The representatives of LASS met with other groups, showed respect to the work being done by other volunteers and agencies and truly boosted the ability of many to provide literacy opportunities to those in need.

In addition to fostering collaboration and partnerships in the community, LASS has put into place a variety of well-received, innovative literacy programs that target learners of all ages and across all sectors. Some of the successful literacy programs provided by LASS include: Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week, Save/Spend/Share Financial Literacy Program, Financial Fitness Series, Coyote Café After School Reading Program, "Pawsitive" Reading Program, and the One-to-One Children’s Literacy Program.

Participation in LASS programs has been impressive. Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week involved 1,257 participants and the One-to-One Children’s Literacy Program has involved over 200 community volunteers across 13 schools in School District 83 – North Okanagan Shuswap. Children participating in the One-to-One Children’s Literacy Program increased their reading speed by 10 and 82 per cent and their reading accuracy by 12 and 41 per cent in only four months. Meanwhile, the Coyote Cafe After School Reading Program provides an exciting and engaging opportunity for aboriginal students and supports the districts work toward meeting goals set out in its Aboriginal Education Enhancement.

LASS strives for continual improvement by setting goals, planning actions and strategies, evaluating progress, and celebrating achievements. Many of the activities have received extensive coverage in the media, people are bringing their children and taking part in the events, and the literacy focus is being woven into the culture of the communities in School District 83 – North Okanagan Shuswap.

In summary, LASS exemplifies commitment to community collaboration, innovative literacy practices, and positive literacy outcomes for all learners and is a worthy recipient of the 2012 Council of the Federation Literacy Award for British Columbia.

News Release:

2011 Council of the Federation Literacy Award Recipient - Dee McRae

Dee McRae
Left to Right:
Dr. Denise Henning (NWCC President),
Dee McRae (2011 CoF recipient),
Regina Saimoto (Campus Principal,
NWCC Houston & Smithers)
With approximately twenty years of service in the literacy field, Dee McRae continues to contribute to literacy through her legacy of body of work, commitment to quality, and innovative literacy practices. Since 1994, Dee McRae has been employed with Northwest Community College (NWCC) where she began as an instructor for Adult Basic Education. She held the position of Regional Literacy Coordinator for 12 years on a part-time contract basis, and then in 2008 she was successful in taking this position over when NWCC added it into their literacy portfolio. Due to her position, and the connections nurtured over the years, Dee has been influential in the development of and funding for seven community adult literacy programs, and has assisted communities around successfully receiving English as a Second Language Settlement grants. At the school district level, Dee was co-chair of the SD54 District Literacy Coalition that piloted one of the province’s first district literacy plans in 2007.

As a lifelong learner, Dee seeks out and helps to organize professional development opportunities. For example, Dee has worked on numerous projects and workshops with Storytellers and Rural Roots including Appreciative Inquiry Workshops bringing together Northwest Community College and community literacy groups. In response to the needs of practitioners and the communities they serve, in particular northern, remote-rural, and aboriginal communities, Dee has published timely and relevant research reports and manuals for practitioners. Dee has also authored and co-authored a number of publications and has presented in BC, Alberta and the United Kingdom through which she has developed an international following around her research.

On any given day, Dee can be seen driving learners to an appointment, meeting with practitioners to help with funding agreements, delivering tutor training in a remote community, providing advice to provincial level organizations about literacy measurement strategies, working on a topical research project, or collaborating with a provincial literacy cohort around provincial policies and programming.

In summary, Dee’s commitment to literacy in BC, and especially in northwest BC, is significant, and has contributed to a healthier and more literate society by:

  • changing the way community literacy services are delivered;
  • designing and delivering innovative tutor training;
  • influencing how literacy progress is measured locally and provincially; and, perhaps most importantly,
  • changing the lives of individual people.

In the words of one of her colleagues, "It is a privilege to work beside Dee and it is my hope to continue to have her be an ever present force in my life as well as the students we work with everyday."

2010 Council of the Federation Literacy Award Recipient - Pete Grinberg

Pete GrinbergPete Grinberg began his career as a high school teacher in Ontario 25 years ago. He later taught at the Kamloops Christian School, where he developed an alternate, self-paced program for struggling students. Since 2003, he has taught at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre (KRCC).

During his time at the KRCC, he has developed and continues to coordinate Street School, a community literacy program for adults who have learning difficulties and a vital link between the corrections system and the community. Pete actively promotes the Street School and solicits volunteers to support this unique program which helps inmates transition from custody into the community. The program has proven to be successful as enrolment in the program has risen from five students to 170, and this year 19 students will graduate with a grade 12 diploma, whereas only one received a Dogwood certificate in the program’s first year.

As an Adult Continuing Education teacher with School District 73 – Kamloops-Thompson, Pete continues to work tirelessly, helping learners reach their individual literacy goals. He also significantly contributes to literacy at a provincial level and within his community, by:

  • Participating in the development of the Orientation Guide for Corrections Educators;
  • Contributing to the development of the Literacy Foundations Curriculum;
  • Acting as a board member of Literacy in Kamloops (L.I.N.K.);
  • Speaking at educators’ conferences and Boards of Education meetings;
  • Initiating community connections with Partner Assisted Literacy (PAL) in Kamloops;
  • Starting a Mother Goose program to help meet the early literacy needs of children of Street School students; and,
  • Coaching community sports teams.

2009 Council of the Federation Literacy Award Recipient

Laurie GouldFor almost 35 years, Laurie Gould has demonstrated her commitment to literacy. When Laurie joined the Basic Education Department of Vancouver Community College in 1974, she soon became instrumental in the early design and implementation of adult literacy programming.

Since that time, she has served on numerous provincial and Pan-Canadian committees related to literacy, designed innovative curriculum and assessment resources, created original reading materials for the adult literacy learner, edited health and government information for plain language, worked directly with scores of adult learners in the classroom and in assessments, and generously shared her vast expertise with colleagues throughout B.C. and Canada. 

In this, her 35th year working in the field, Laurie continues to serve the literacy community with a strong sense of dedication to both literacy learners and practitioners.

2008 Council of the Federation Literacy Award Recipient

Janice DouglasJanice Douglas began her career in literacy as a children’s librarian in 1967. During her 41 year commitment, she has been a tireless leader in the library community and has contributed to the development of literacy at all life stages.

Early on, Janice was responsible for the Vancouver Public Library being one of the first public libraries in North America to deliver literacy programs for parents and their babies. There can be no doubt that her work has had a positive influence on Vancouver children’s reading activity. Janice was a founding board member and past chair of the national literacy festival, Word-on-the-Street and a founding partner in establishing Family Literacy Week in British Columbia. She supported the introduction of Mother Goose programming around Vancouver, which now has 15 to 20 programs across the city in multiple languages. She also created the family literacy program, Man in the Moon, a program for male caregivers and their children.

Janice has not neglected adults in her support of literacy activities. She developed the One Book, One Vancouver adult literacy program to get the whole city reading the same book. Her promotion of author readings for adults has attracted many with low literacy levels.

Janice has since retired from the Vancouver Public Library this May; however, she continues to be a literacy champion in collaboration with a number of literacy organizations.