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Wisconsin Celebration of Literacy Awards
Date: May 14, 2009 02:17AM

Celebration of Literacy Award Honors Students, Tutors, and Programs
Many things go well together: horse and carriage, chocolate and peanut butter, and pen and paper. Wisconsin Literacy, Inc. and Wisconsin Institutions Literacy Council (WILC) are two organizations that work well together. Wisconsin Literacy, Inc. is a statewide agency that was initially formed in 1985 as a coalition of adult, family and workplace literacy providers for the purpose of supporting one another through resource development, information and referrals, trainings and advocacy. WILC is an organization which promotes literacy and life skills through a learner-centered environment. This is accomplished through tutoring services offered by individual institutions for inmates enrolled in school, and also for inmates in the general population who wish to improve their math, reading, writing and keyboarding skills in order to prepare for re-entry into society, family life and the workplace.

One of the activities in which Wisconsin Literacy and WILC partner is the annual Celebration of Literacy. On Thursday, May 7, 2009, Wisconsin Literacy hosted its 7th Annual Celebration of Literacy at the Edgewater Hotel in Madison. Seven awards were presented. WILC submitted nine nominations. Of those nine – three won awards.

The winners from WILC (Wisconsin Institutions Literacy Council) were:
Outstanding English Language Learner of the Year
Award Winner: Javier Bautista-Sanchez
Nominated by: Stanley Correctional Institution
Courage Award for Achievement in a Correctional Setting
Award Winner: Colin Fields
Nominated by: Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility
The First Lady Jessica Doyle Award for Family Literacy
Award Winner: Fathers Sharing Books Program
Nominated by: Stanley Correctional Institution

The award winners from other organizations were:
Outstanding Adult Literacy Learner of the Year
Award Winner: Teresa Sanfilippo
Nominated by: Literacy Council of Greater Waukesha
Outstanding Achievement in a Workplace Literacy Program
Award Winner: Cargill, Inc.
Nominated by: Milwaukee Achiever Literacy Services, Inc.
Tutor of the Year
Award Winners: Sister Jeanne Jarvis and Sister Carlotta Ullmer
Nominated by: Literacy Green Bay
Literacy Advocate of the Year
Award Winner: Jessica Hale
Nominated by: Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College Adult Basic Education Program

The other WILC nominations were:
Courage Award for Achievement in a Correctional Setting
Beth Gretzinger Taycheedah Correctional Institution
Nancy Kantorowicz-Gruenwald Taycheedah Correctional Institution
Christopher Brooks Stanley Correctional Institution
Tutor of the Year
Teddy Tritten Jackson Correctional Institution
Joshua Tibbetts Stanley Correctional Institution
Dawn Ludwig Taycheedah Correctional Institution.
Outstanding English Language Learner of the Year:
Mr. Sanchez began his educational journey at Stanley Correctional Institution in May 2004 in the Vocational Custodial Services program. He completed all the Chippewa Valley Technical College requirements and received his diploma in May of 2005. In spite of his ESL challenge, he earned a 3.71 GPA in his college courses.

He then began work on his HSED. The journey through all of the courses involved in the HSED was long and hard as he struggled with his ESL barrier. Mr. Sanchez completed work on his HSED on September 17, 2008. He averaged a score of 522 on the five GED core tests. He completed Civics and Employability Skills with distinction and earned a 71 on the State of Wisconsin’s Health Test.

In addition to all the work completing his Vocational and HSED diplomas, Mr. Sanchez went above and beyond what average students do. He completed these additional elective courses while working on his educational courses: Introduction to Computers, Advanced Computer Application, MS Office Suite, and Tutor Training through ProLiteracy America.

Mr. Sanchez‘s goal is to become a Bilingual Literacy Tutor and help those who are experiencing the same difficult challenges that he did. Mr. Sanchez is definitely an outstanding English Language Learner.

Courage Award for Achievement in a Correctional Setting:
Colin Fields’ birth was anything but easy. After nine hours of painstaking labor, his mother gave birth to an 11lb./11oz. baby boy. The traumatic delivery left his face bruised and beaten, as well as a broken clavicle (collar bone). He was immediately rushed off by nurses, leaving his mother to wonder if he was even alive. Due to the lack of oxygen, it was thought that he would suffer permanent brain damage, or even blindness. Worse than the bruises and broken bones was the nerve damage caused by the improper delivery. The nerves in his neck and shoulder were severed causing Erb’s Palsy in his left arm. His parents were told if he recovered he would never use his arm again. Against all odds he survived, with the only lasting effect being that he has minimal use of his arm.

Growing up, he never allowed this to hinder him. The divorce of his parents when he was 12 had a profound effect on him. The divorce placed him between homes, moving from Wisconsin to New Mexico. While in New Mexico he lived in a neighborhood called the “war zone;” here he was introduced to drugs and gangs. Upon moving back to Wisconsin, he came with the same mentality he had in the “war zone.” Mr. Fields immersed himself in a criminal lifestyle. At age 17, he learned that his girlfriend was pregnant and he realized he needed to make a change. He focused on school and received his first job, but soon after his old habits caught up with him and he was incarcerated.

While incarcerated, he continued his schooling and received his HSED. On July 20, 2007 he became a ProLiteracy Tutor and went on to help other inmates receive their HSED. He completed the Diversity Circles Program and also received a job in the library. Mr. Fields enrolled in the Micro Computer Application Specialist Course and recently graduated from it, earning a total of 12 credits through Gateway Technical College. He also accumulated 18 credits through Milwaukee Area Technical College.

On February 13th he was selected as one of the student speakers for graduation. In his speech he shared, “The choices I decided to make and the lifestyle I chose to live set in motion the circumstances that led me to this institution. The consequences of my actions and my poor judgment affected more than just me. I failed to foresee how my behavior would affect those around me. Every step I take now is a step toward rectifying the broken relationships and making amends for the hurt I caused.” Seeing the smile on his mother’s face made every struggle worth fighting and every obstacle worth overcoming.

Malcolm X said, “Education is the passport to the future, tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Mr. Fields has prepared himself and his family for a better future by the courage he demonstrated while in a correctional setting.

The First Lady Jessica Doyle Award for Family Literacy:
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” This quote by W. Fusselman is a good summary of the Fathers Sharing Books program at Stanley Correctional Institution (SCI).

The Fathers Sharing Books program began at SCI in 2004 with the purpose of keeping fathers connected with their children. Other important goals of the program include improving the literacy of the fathers involved and potentially breaking the cycle of crime. This reading program allows incarcerated fathers to stay in touch with their children.

Once enrolled, men attend class to learn why reading to children is important, how to select age appropriate materials, and where to find books and materials. Classroom sessions encourage the fathers to discover what their own educational values are and to express those values in personal journals.

When they have completed the class, time is reserved for each of them to burn a CD as they are reading a book they have personally chosen. They may read more than one book because each father is allotted 30 minutes to read to their children. The CD is paid for by the father and mailed to his child/children. Men are allowed to make additional CDs (same cost) by simply contacting the instructor to reserve a time to read another book for their child/children. The program is offered 3 to 4 times per year at Stanley Correctional Institution. At least 50 men a year have the chance to read a book to their children and are able to promote family literacy.

This program has an incredibly positive effect not only on the inmates, but also on their families. The instructor has received letters of support and thanks from some of the families. They are grateful for the connection being made between the inmate and their children. The books that the inmates read are readily available for families to have in their homes. The effort made by these men to contribute to and be a part of their families’ lives is invaluable. Encouraging their children to read and follow along as Daddy reads is an integral part of developing family literacy, even from a distance.

Besides honoring the award-winning adult learners, tutors and literacy advocates in Wisconsin, the Celebration of Literacy helps raise necessary funds to support 58 literacy programs throughout the state.

This year’s keynote speaker was Michael Feldman, award-winning host of the nationally syndicated radio show Whad'Ya Know? The Celebration also featured a silent auction of a wide range of items, including signed books by some of Wisconsin’s best authors.

by: Kay C George, WILC Co-Director & Tutor Supervisor
Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility

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