Mass Literacy announces 2014 Mass Literacy Champions award recipients


BOSTON, MASS. Mass Literacy, the nonprofit initiative of the Boston Herald that supports literacy in Massachusetts, has recently selected five Mass Literacy Champions award recipients. The awards identify, publicly recognize and support individuals who have made significant contributions in the field of literacy education.

The 2014 Mass Literacy Champions include Laurie Collins, published author and children’s librarian at the Ipswich Public Library, Jean Ciborowski Fahey, PhD., published author and director of the South Shore Hospital Reading Program in Weymouth, Maureen Manning, Director of Family and Community Engagement in Wareham, Kimberly N. Parker, Ph.D., English Faculty, Cambridge, Rindge and Latin School, Cambridge, and Jan Plourde, M. Ed., Director of The REAL Program in Lynn and Director of Developmental Teaching, LLC in Beverly.

“We are thrilled to honor these five exceptional individuals with Mass Literacy Champions Awards,” said Mass Literacy Director Julie DeFrancesco. “They have each demonstrated a deep commitment to literacy education and have achieved outstanding results in their communities. Through the opportunities made available to them by Mass Literacy and the Boston Herald, they will have the ability to share their best practices with all of Massachusetts.”

The Mass Literacy Champions Awards Program was created in 2002 by Mass Literacy to honor education leaders who are committed to advancing literacy. Since the program’s inception, 70 educators have received the award.Mass Literacy Champions represent every level and area of literacy as well as many different communities from around Massachusetts.

Each 2014 award recipient receives a $1000 grant to start a new literacy project, guidance to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise additional funds, ongoing recognition in the Boston Herald and on, a video highlighting their work and the opportunity to serve as an ambassador to Mass Literacy for one year.

The new Mass Literacy Champions are already planning their literacy projects. Laurie Collins will be hosting a book-themed scavenger hunt for children at the Topsfield Fair this October that ties literature into agricultural exhibits. “With Mass Literacy I hope to find a bigger platform to share these ideas of public literacy, of the importance of public collaboration, to bring the promise of reading out into the public eye,” said Collins.

Jean Fahey hopes to fund and distribute the Spanish version of her book “Make Time for Reading” upon completion of its translation. Her unique book includes a children’s picture story on one side of each page, coupled with messages for parents about the importance of reading to their children on the other side. The translated version will make the vital early childhood information in her book available to Spanish speaking parents. “Mass Literacy will be helping me find ways to attract a ‘book-sponsor’interested in buying and branding the Spanish version,” says Fahey.

With the help of Mass Literacy and the Boston Herald, the Mass Literacy Champions are working to achieve a fully literate population in Massachusetts. For additional information about Mass Literacy and the Mass Literacy Champions Awards Program, visit