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, rejuvenating, and sustaining a lending library; commitment to literacy by staff; "ownership" of the library by children; literacy-focused initiatives such as a student librarian program, remedial reading, book clubs, and poetry and writing groups; library infrastructure improvements; involvement by community members.
Glanvilles Secondary School has engaged the students in all the right ways: the library is a place of learning and discovery across a wide range of subjects.
Glanvilles Secondary School
Cultivating a Reading-Rich Environment. Nestled in the rolling rural hills of Antigua, Glanvilles Secondary is a well-run, small secondary school with a principal and staff who are quietly and steadily advancing child literacy. The school library is run by Mrs. Adams, a full-time librarian and enthusiastic advocate of books who does all the right things to instill a love of reading in the school’s 111 students. The library is well-organized and welcoming, a place where students can learn library skills, browse and borrow books during breaktime and lunchtime, and explore the world beyond Antigua, in terms of fiction as well as non-fiction (reference sets) books from Hands. Some students from primary schools come to Glanvilles with poor reading skills, but their literacy level quickly perks up in the reading-rich environment. Principal Denise Mills notes, “Presently the trend being noticed is that the girls tend to borrow books geared towards boys' enjoyment, series books like Morganville Vampires, Alex Rider, Hunger Games, Darren Shan, Goosebumps, and Bluford High. The boys are reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Enid Blyton, and the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries.” The principal reports that borrowing has increased to approximately 65% of the student body since receiving 522 new, amazing books (as part of the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 Wish Lists shipments) from Hands. We are very happy to keep feeding the fire of literacy at Glanvilles Secondary!
ANTIGUA Honorable Mentions: Jennings Primary School • Liberta Primary School • Mary E. Pigott Primary School • Willikies Primary School
Part of the landscape: a librarian's creativity has transformed reading, books, and the library at Sandy Point Primary School into an integral part of student life.
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
Sandy Point Primary School
The Mighty Spark of Creativity. How does a library become more than a collection of books? How does a school become infused with the excitement and discovery of reading and literacy? How does the power and value of child literacy spread throughout a community? Meet Nicole Francis-Williams, librarian and architect (along with super-supportive Principal Jennifer Dolphin) of the Sandy Point Primary School library makeover (in the photo above, that's Principal Dolphin at right and Francis-Williams holding up the big orange hand). Francis-Williams embraced the methodology of the Hands Across the Sea Library Manual for Primary Schools (color-coding the books by reading level, artfully displaying them, and more). But much more than that she has brought vitality to the library by creating fun, engaging literacy activities for each grade at the school, such as: a new theme for the library every term; read-alouds dramatized with in-character costumes from books; a “Read a Book” challenge, with rewards; and literacy “parades” of the school’s avid student readers through the community. The library at Sandy Point Primary is now completely integral to the education and daily life of the school’s 312 students. That’s the way it should be.
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS Honorable Mentions: Charlestown Primary School (Nevis) • Deane-Glasford Primary School (St. Kitts) • Dr. William Connor Primary School (St. Kitts) • Gingerland Secondary School (Nevis) • Tucker Clarke Primary School (St. Kitts)
Tete Morne Primary School's new library is the result of a partnership between the school's principal, U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Elena MacDonald (at right) and Hands.
Tete Morne Primary School
A Trio of Powerful Partnerships. First, a little history about these partnerships: Hands has had the pleasure of partnering with passionate and dedicated Principal Nathalie Jude since our first Wish Lists shipment of books to the school in 2012—and every year since. It’s been a fulfilling partnership for Tete Morne Primary as well as Hands Across the Sea: the new books have been very much appreciated and well used. The school was and is severely space-challenged, but the principal’s belief in the power of books and the high priority she placed on child literacy has transcended the space restrictions. Then U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Elena MacDonald, the third leg of the partnership, brought her energy to the school last year, and shortly the library was moved into a larger, more appropriate room. MacDonald and school staff painted, cleaned, and put shelving in place, culled old books and sorted, labeled, and shelved the new books. The new library space was officially opened in May 2015 during the school's Literacy Week. At last, the library has a physical space of its own! In the minds and hearts of the children at Tete Morne Primary School, books and reading have long occupied a valued place.
DOMINICA Honorable Mentions: Atkinson School • Goodwill Primary School • Jones Beaupierre Primary School • Pierre Charles Secondary School • Massacre-Canefield Primary School • Petite Savanne Primary School • Roosevelt Douglas Primary School • St. Mary's Academy • St. Mary's Primary School • Thibaud Primary School • Wesley Primary School
Where the action is: the principal of space-challenged New Prospect Primary School overcame the odds to created a high-performing, much-loved library.
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
New Prospect Primary School
Small School. Big Heart. How can you possibly start a school library when there is absolutely no space for one? Back in 2014 when we met the principal of the tiny, rural, New Prospect Primary School, Mr. Albert Harry, we were so impressed with his total commitment to raising the literacy levels of his students—all 39 of them—that we shipped the school 400 brand new books. The only question was, where would the books go? There really is hardly a scrap of spare space at this little school. Undaunted, Principal Harry promptly designated a library space (the school office was cut in half, and the school records were stored in cupboards). The principal raised some funds, purchased lumber for bookshelves, and asked a local business to donate paint. The result is cozy, inviting library space that the kids love (there’s no space for tables and chairs, but that doesn’t matter). The library is super-popular, and Mr. Harry bemoaned the fact that many of the books are so well-loved that the pages were quickly becoming dog-eared. Child literacy has been advanced in many ways, including bringing the community onboard—the official opening of the library included a children’s parade through the village and a gala ribbon-cutting. We are celebrating New Prospect Primary School’s amazing new library, too. Congratulations!
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES Honorable Mentions: C.W. Prescod Primary School • Clare Valley Government School • Lauders Primary School • Lowmans Windward Anglican School • Paget Farm Primary School
Celebrate! From left to right: Olivia Phillip, Hands Across the Sea Literacy Link for Grenada; Mr. Stephen Frahm, Charge d’Affaires, United States Embassy; Deleon Forrestor, Public Relations Coordinator, Sandals LaSource Grenada; Ms. Elizabeth Felix, Librarian; Westerhall students; Amanda Dombach, Program/Operations Director, Hands Across the Sea; Mrs. Agnes La Barrie, Literacy Coordinator; Mrs. Bernadette Samuel, Principal, Westerhall Secondary School.
Westerhall Secondary School
The Focal Point of Literacy. Since beginning our partnership with Westerhall Secondary School in 2014 Hands Across the Sea has sent nearly 700 new amazing books. The teachers and staff have taken those books and created a thriving and engaging lending library that provides a positive and supportive environment. The library here is truly a team effort. Mrs. La Barrie, Literacy Coordinator, and Ms. Felix, Librarian, have created activities to promote the library and reading, including working with struggling students, creating a reading club, organizing reading competitions, and much more. La Barrie and Felix also nurtured student ownership of the library—now a number of student helpers are excellent custodians of the library and the books. They are supported by the rest of the active library committee, made up of the Vice Principal, Department Heads, teachers, and students. Together, the library committee organizes fundraising events and plans literary activities, such as literary concerts and reading competitions.
I am personally very grateful for the passion and dedication of the Westerhall Secondary School staff. A few years ago as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, I started a school library at Corinth Government School. I watched as students discovered a love of reading, and I would see the joy in their eyes when they got a new book in their hands. I’m proud to say that many of those students are now here at Westerhall, and I’m thrilled to see them in the library. To Mrs. Samuel, Mrs. La Barrie, Ms. Felix, and the rest of the library team I want to thank you for making literacy, and the library by extension, a priority. By developing and strengthening a love of reading in your students you are opening up opportunities and helping them elevate themselves, the school, and the surrounding villages.
Hands Across the Sea also salutes the Sandals Foundation, whose support of Westerhall Secondary School over the years has paid for many of the great new books in this library.
And last but certainly not least: a shout-out to the 400 students of Westerhall Secondary School. This award belongs to you as much as it belongs to your teachers and principals. Congratulations! Your passion for reading is strong and admirable. There is no doubt in my mind that you will continue to make all of us proud.—Amanda Dombach, Program/Operations Director, Hands Across the Sea
GRENADA Honorable Mentions: Beacon Learning Centre • Boca Secondary School • Constantine Methodist Primary School • Grenada Christian Academy • J.W. Fletcher Secondary School • St. Andrew's Anglican Primary School • St. Dominic's RC Primary School • St. John's Christian Secondary School • St. Joseph's RC Primary School • St. Martin de Porres Primary School • St. Matthews RC Primary School • St. Peter's RC Primary School
Big day: Students at Morne Du Don Primary School celebrated winning the 2015-2016 Hands Literacy Award for St. Lucia on the same day (July 7th) of their graduation ceremony. Congratulations, Bookworm Graduates!
Morne Du Don Primary School
It Takes a Village. When a fledgling school library turns into a success story, it's usually not just one person who has made it happen. To create a library that is not only sustainable but the school's center of literacy, it takes a village, and Morne Du Don Primary School is a perfect example. Principal Julietta Charles and Library Coordinator Lynda Sargusingh, along with the school’s teachers and Jacqueline Vidal-Atherly, the Hands Literacy Link for St. Lucia, spearheaded the effort to transform a dreary spare classroom of "donation dumped" library books into an engaging, child-friendly garden of child literacy. The Sandals Foundation, with support from the three Sandals resorts on St. Lucia, provided generous funding that paid for 528 new amazing books from Hands. A local young lady donated her time to grace the exterior and interior of the library room with beautiful murals. A local carpenter donated his time to build bookshelves and a reading corner in the room. A local retiree, Andreulle Nurse, volunteers her time as part-time librarian. Every teacher's class is now timetabled for library sessions—which means that every one of the school's 290 students visits the library every week. Congratulations to everyone at Morne Du Don Primary School, and to the village of Morne Du Don!
ST. LUCIA Honorable Mentions: Ave Maria RC Primary School • Bouton RC Combined School • Dennery Infant School • Des Barras Combined School • George Charles Secondary School • Piaye Combined School • Plain Combined School • Saltibus RC Combined School • Vide Bouteille Primary School