The Hands Literacy Award recognizes Eastern Caribbean schools, libraries, reading programs, and after-school youth centers that are leading the way in child literacy—and we reward them with U.S. $1,000 in books or literacy resources of their choice. We choose the winners on: creating and sustaining a lending library; commitment to literacy by staff; "ownership" of the library by children; literacy-focused programs such as remedial reading, book clubs, and poetry and writing groups; library infrastructure improvements; involvement in child literacy by community members.
Old Road Primary School is small but the students and staff have a big passion for literacy—books, reading, discussion, storytelling, writing, and more.
Old Road Primary School
Passion Play. Old Road Primary School is a small rural school with a big heart and an even bigger passion for books, reading, and the advancement of child literacy—on the basis of their heart, dedication, and the resulting child literacy success story, we have awarded the school 2014-2015 Hands Literacy Award for Antigua. The love of literacy at this school comes from the dedication of Principal Mrs. Ryona Joseph, Grade 5 and Grade 6 teacher Mrs. Leonara Thomas (who is also the teacher-in-charge-of-the-library, and spearheaded the development of the library), and Mrs. Julia Irish, the school’s remedial reading teacher. They and the rest of the school’s teachers utilize the resources of the library in highly beneficial ways: for read-aloud with the students, for discussion time and class projects, and for helping each child find his or her way through the collection to the book that can grab their attention and steal their heart (Frozen comes to mind). The Old Road Primary School library is on the small side (space is at a premium at this school) but it is well organized, inviting, and easily accessible to students—in fact, there are no old, inappropriate books left after the library team culled and got rid of (via a book sale, giving them away, and—last resort—incineration) the old bunch of ancient, donated library-discard titles. Just about the only books left now are the wide variety of new, age- and culturally-appropriate books sent by Hands (over the past two years, we’ve sent the school 700 new books, including a new encyclopedia set in the 2014-2015 Hands Wish Lists shipment. The library at Old Road Primary School is a very busy, very happy place—the students are reading, reading, reading.
ANTIGUA Honorable Mentions: Bendal's Primary School • Pares Secondary School • St. John's Catholic Primary School • St. John's Lutheran Primary School
With a great library space, the school's principal, Mr. Edson Elliott (in yellow shirt, at right) and his staff are committed to Charlestown Secondary School's dedication to literacy.
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
Charlestown Secondary School
Keep the Spirit. Over a year ago, Marva Paris-Roberts, then the new librarian at this large school, transformed the school’s lackluster library into a highly effective, super-appealing, exciting space. Inventive book displays that rivaled any bookstore, a “black heroes” wall (from reggae legend Bob Marley to Nelson Mandela), computers, and furniture that invites readers (comfy red couch) made this a great place for students to read and carry out research. It just goes to show what a person who passionately believes in literacy can do. Marva has since moved on, but the elements of a great school library remain—and the U.S. $2,000 of brand new books from this award will go a long way to filling any gaps in the school’s collection. (We’re sure that Librarian Paula Wallace and Assistant Librarian Ms. Aneka Hodge are already making their list.) Among all the Eastern Caribbean islands that Hands serves, Nevis stands out for its dedication to literacy and school libraries; none of the other islands, for example, have paid librarians at primary schools (teachers must pinch-hit for each other to keep the library running). And the libraries at secondary schools, such as Charlestown Secondary School, are adequately funded. Which is as it should be.
Also, during each school term, all the Teacher/Librarians on Nevis hold three major community-oriented activities — Blanket Night, Family Book Feud, and Book Fair. The community activities are geared toward "strengthening family ties in the community; promoting reading and developing a healthy reading environment in the homes; helping children and families to develop a love and appreciation for reading and books; demonstrating to parents how they can engage their children at home; sharing with parents the benefits of reading at home and to their children; and developing lifelong readers and members of the library."
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS Honorable Mentions: Charles E. Mills Secondary School (St. Kitts) • Dr. William Connor Primary School (St. Kitts) • Elizabeth Pemberton Primary School (Nevis) • Joshua O. Williams Primary School (St. Kitts) • Sandy Point Primary School (St. Kitts)
Thanks to a committment, hard work, and a desire for a great school from the library team at Anglican High, the school has more readers than ever!
Anglican High School
It All Started with the Library Team. In just a short time, Anglican High School has gone from not having a library to having one of the best high school libraries in Grenada—everywhere you look at Anglican High School, there’s a girl reading a brand new book! And this is a big high school—775 students. The creation of the school library began several years ago when Kim Parris, the school’s Literacy Coordinator, and a student “library team” approached Hands Across the Sea. They had an empty room and empty shelves, and the wanted a library! They began rearranging and repainting in advance of the first shipment of new books from Hands Across the Sea for the 2013-2014 school year. With the recent October, 2014 shipment, the school now has 740 brand new books from Hands; the 2014-2015 shipment was funded by the Craig family from Alberta, Canada, in memory of Jean Craig Baptiste, a former teacher at Anglican High School. As winners of the 2014-2015 Hands Literacy Award for Grenada, the school will receive an additional shipment of new books worth U.S $2,000. We know that these books will be as beautifully and thoughfully displayed on the shelves as the present collection is. And we know that lots of eager student readers are waiting for them!
GRENADA Honorable Mentions: Birchgrove RC Primary School • Blessed Sacrament RC Primary School • Grenada Christian Academy • J.W. Fletcher Secondary School • River Sallee Government School • Vendome RC Primary School • Westerhall Secondary School
Thanks to the creativity and dedication of Teacher-in-Charge of the Library Ms. Cecilia Clovis (left), students at Soufriere Primary School are now "hooked on reading."
Soufriere Primary School
A Place Where Creativity Blossoms. This is a progressive, child-friendly school with a great library and a gifted, highly committed staff—Principal Gill and his teachers are dedicated to raising the literacy level of their students. The library is a welcoming, comfortable, and invigorating place for the children. The Teacher in Charge (and chief creative architect) of the library, Ms. Cecilia Clovis, reports: “Our boys have become hooked on books like Horrid Henry and Captain Underpants. Our girls are in love with Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House.” Other favorites include A-Z Mysteries, Magic School Bus, Nancy Drew, and Goosebumps. Students are also encouraged to read widely, a goal made possible by the broad range of books supplied by Hands Across the Sea.
Hands Across the Sea first shipped new books to the school for the 2011-2012 school year, and followed that up with shipments for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. With the 2014-2015 shipment, the school now has over 1,600 brand new books from Hands. As winners of the 2014-2015 Hands Literacy Award for St. Lucia, the school will receive an additional shipment of new books worth U.S $2,000. "We have already expanded our library to accommodate all the new books from Hands Across the Sea," notes Principal Gill. They may need to do it again!
ST. LUCIA Honorable Mentions: Ave Maria Infant RC Primary School • Ave Maria RC Primary School • Dennery Infant School • Dennery Primary School • George Charles Secondary School • Gros Islet Infant School • Morne Du Don Primary School
At Petite Savanne Primary School Principal Oliver Samuel (second from left) believes in the power of books, reading, and a lending library
Petite Savanne Primary School
The Proof Is in the Numbers. Principal Oliver Samuel, who has been at the helm of Petite Savanne Primary, a small rural school on Dominica’s rugged windward (east) coast, for many years, is a high achiever given to understatement. “Literacy is a passion of mine,” he said upon accepting the award as Hands’s top-performing school on Dominica. Principal Samuel is modest, but his and his teachers’ achievements speak loudly: in the Grade 2 and Grade 4 national reading assessment, which measures the ability of students to read at grade level, in 2014 the school scored 100% for Grade 2 and 95% for Grade 4. (The national average is 75% or so.) In 2013 Petite Savanne’s scores were 100% and 93%. In 2012, 91% and 87%. In 2012, 91% and 87%. And in 2011, 100% and 100%. “We know definitely that the library is having a positive impact on reading at school,” notes Principal Samuel. And from the time that Hands began working with the school, the library has been a bright, well-run, highly popular part of the school. And such dedication to excellence in child literacy shows, in the excitement of the students and the excellence of their test scores.
DOMINICA Honorable Mentions: Bagatelle Primary School • Bense Primary School • Castle Bruce Secondary School • Delices Primary School • Dos d' Ane Primary School • Grand Fond Primary School • Isaiah Thomas Secondary School • Morne Jaune Primary School • Penville Primary School • Roseau Primary School • Temple SDA Primary School • Tete Morne Primary School • Vieille Case Primary School • Warner Primary School
At Buccament Government School, the lending library has been going strong for many years—it's loved and used by students from Kindergarten to Grade 6
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Buccament Government School
Where Literacy is Part of the Landscape. Just about the first thing you’ll notice when you visit Buccament Government School, a medium-size school of 300 Kindergarten to Grade 6 students nestled high up a valley in the village of Dubois on St. Vincent’s leeward (west) coast, are the vocabulary lists painted on the wall next to the library. This school takes literacy seriously! It’s also an institution where the lending library has become an integral and essential part of school life—that’s a sure sign of excellence in child literacy. Hands first became acquainted with the school and then-Principal Artis Robinson back in 2011-2013, when the library was already on the way to becoming its present rock-solid presence. When the present Principal, Susan Jackson Abraham, took over (Mr. Robinson retired) she continued to nurture the library. The library space is on the small side, but it is obviously well-loved and well-used by the students.
And that is the point. A school library serves the students—they use it to do research for class projects, to explore new worlds through the pages of a book, and to share the experience and joy of reading. Along the way, of course, they are honing their all-important literacy skills: vocabulary, grammar, writing, analysis and critical thinking, and verbal expression. But when you’re deep into a book you love, it doesn’t really seem like work (or even homework). This is why, we suspect, that the lending library at Buccament Government School has become such a popular and enduring part of the school’s landscape.
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES Honorable Mentions: C.W. Prescod Primary School • Clare Valley Government School • Georgetown Government School • Mary Hutchinson Primary School • New Prospect Primary School