SAN BERNARDINO, CA- Thirty-five Reading Heroes who raise the bar for literacy throughout San Bernardino County were recognized by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday as part of the Countywide Vision project’s Vision2Read initiative.
In February, the Vision2Read campaign asked the public to identify people in the community who go above and beyond the call of duty to motivate others to read and improve literacy skills and nominate them as Reading Heroes.
“I’m pleased to learn that so many sectors in our community are collaborating to improve literacy in this county,” said James Ramos, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “These Reading Heroes come from private business, public schools, libraries, and community organizations. Several of these Reading Heroes are spending their own personal time to make sure our children and adults are learning what they need to succeed in life.”
The Reading Heroes are:
Laurey Aydelotte volunteers in classrooms at Wrightwood and Phelan Elementary and Pinion Mesa Middle schools helping children read.
Carol Baker of Baker’s Drive Thru sponsors the Baker’s Book Club and donated the land for the Baker Family Learning Center in Muscoy.
Amber Claflin gets the children of Etiwanda schools excited about reading by implementing a Battle of the Books competition and keeping school libraries open during the summer.
Dawn Coberly created an accelerated reading program at her school in the Snowline School District and works during the evenings to teach literacy to adult learners.
Stacy Diemert is a High Desert Juvenile Court school librarian who works with struggling readers to bring them up to speed and orders books in advance so they don’t have to wait for new material.
Karen Duns volunteers and works overtime to encourage children in Highland to read by helping select books that will pique their interest and connect them to lifelong reading.
Michelle Dusick works with local schools to encourage literacy for people of all ages on their journey to recovery and wellness in San Bernardino County.
Cindy Easterly helps children and adults build valuable literacy skills as a volunteer for the City of Rancho Cucamonga’s public library.
Skylynn Ellison is an 11-year-old from Fontana who is already a published author of the book “Sky’s the Limit: The Drama Queen,” about a girl who stands up to bullies.
Melany Espinoza is a student at Phelan Elementary School who does household chores to fund the purchase of new books to read to her own goats, cows and horses.
Alyssa Gammell is an Oak Hills High School student who encourages friends and classmates to read by writing stories so interesting they want to read more. Her ultimate goal is to become an author.
Dr. Jane Guttman is a teacher librarian for Juvenile Court Schools in San Bernardino County and encourages literacy for incarcerated youth at risk.
Lydia Harjehausen is a library technician at an elementary school in Yucaipa who motives children and young adults to reach each day.
Lisa Hazen dresses up as the Cat in the Hat for children at the Adelanto Branch Library and brings stories to life for children with her enthusiasm.
Linda Holden holds reading competitions and other literacy events for students and parents to motivate even the most unlikely readers to become successful at the Mission Crest Elementary School library in Hesperia.
Niki Jack is an avid reader who completed about six and a half years of adult reading in three months while a student at Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School in Lake Arrowhead.
Martha Kennedy is a retired teacher who works with adult literacy learners that meets at Lugonia Elementary School in Redlands.
Cindy Kimble-Pirner inspires her preschoolers in San Bernardino County schools to learn to read in unconventional ways and through reading games such as “popcorn words” and “bubble gum” words.
Brad Letner is a Rotarian who established a literacy program aimed at pre-kindergarten children in the Victor Valley area which pairs community members with a child for an hour, three days a week to improve their literacy skills.
Pamela Martinez leads the successful Young Readers program at the AK Smiley Public Library in Redlands that serves thousands of youth each year.
Kristen Mungcal works with peer advocates and program managers in the county to help develop writing and reading comprehension skills for adults improving their quality of life.
Suzanne Oliver, a retired Victorville librarian, takes her trained therapy dogs to schools and libraries so children can read with them and to them to improve their literacy skills.
Jerry Patterson spends one day every week at Warm Springs Elementary School in San Bernardino reading to classrooms of children. At Christmas time, he provides a book to each student.
Frank Perez founded the Colton nonprofit Rewritten where he works with at-risk youth to empower them through education and literacy.
Denise Perry, a first-grade teacher at Lugonia Elementary School in Redlands, stresses the importance of reading to her students and their parents by encouraging them to read at least 15 minutes a day together.
Lynette Ramirez launched the Ready4Reading Book Club in the High Desert to collect books so underprivileged children, often transients, could have access to literacy.
Sharon Regalado, a retired teacher, works with adult literacy learners that meets at Lugonia Elementary School in Redlands
Ashenden Salazar tutors and reads at the STEM Charter School in Barstow helping other students achieve their goals.
Courtney Saldana implemented KinderGo which puts a library card in the hands of every Ontario kindergartner and holds the Ontario Teen Book fest where teens can meet their favorite authors in person.
Kenneth Thomas, an elementary school student who reads at a 12th grade level, constantly has a book in his hand and encourages his sister, his friends and classmates to read.
Jim and Judy Watson funded the Watson and Associates Literacy Center at Cal State San Bernardino, a tutoring facility designed to help students struggling to reach grade-level proficiency.
Diane and Paul Williams helped create the Rancho Cucamonga Public Library and they raise funds for Friends of the Library which pays for books and literacy programs.
Chris Wilson, a second grade teacher at Fairfax Elementary in San Bernardino, built a Reading Room in his classroom and filled it with donated books.
Vision2Read, an initiative of the Countywide Vision project, aims to raise the bar on literacy in our county by focusing on the importance of reading, connecting people who need help or who can help to literacy resources. Sixty-three percent of San Bernardino County third graders did not meet 2016 California English language arts and literacy standards and 32 million adults nationwide can’t read.
Literacy has an impact on a number of elements in our community such as jobs and the economy, education, public safety and wellness. When literacy skills are nurtured and encouraged, children and adults can reach their potential, the local economy can continue to prosper and the county will have a more educated workforce to attract employers to the region.