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Hands Across the Sea is dedicated
to raising the literacy levels
of Eastern Caribbean children
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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.
That's the spirit! The destruction of Hurricane Maria behind them, everyone at Jones Beaupierre Primary School is more excited than ever about books, reading, and the school library.
Jones Beaupierre Primary School
The Spirit of Dominica. Darkness was falling when, on September 18, 2017, Hurricane Maria descended on Dominica. Over the next eight hours the Category 5 storm killed 31 people and damaged 95% of homes and schools on the island. Exposed to the Atlantic Ocean, Jones Beaupierre Primary School (90 students, Grades K to 6) was hit hard—160 mile-per-hour winds tore off the school's roofs, blew out windows and doors, and two feet of rain—a firehose—ruined whatever was left inside the school's walls.

The storm was the deadliest, most destructive hurricane in Dominica's history. But it did not defeat the school's spirit. Principal Martha Stephenson and her teachers vowed that the hurricane would not take away the gains in child literacy that they'd made with their school library. The extensive rebuilding of the school would include—of course—the repair and resurrection of the school library. The students' love affair with reading must continue.

Now the library at Jones Beaupierre Primary School is better than ever—colorful, welcoming, child-friendly, a magnet for students of every grade and reading ability. Hands Across the Sea wishes to recognize and celebrate the dedication of Jones Beaupierre Primary School to the advancement of child literacy.

Sixty other schools on the island were severely damaged, and many school staff and students lost their homes, belongings, and loved ones—almost every school on Dominica is in some stage of post-disaster recovery. There are many stories of recovery and resilience. The spirit of Jones Beaupierre Primary School is an inspiration to all.
DOMINICA Honorable Mentions: Atkinson School • Bagatelle Primary School • Castle Bruce Primary School • Giraudel Primary School • Isaiah Thomas Secondary School • Roosevelt Douglas Primary School • Salisbury Primary School • Wesley Primary School

"We Read" indeed! At this small-size school tucked away in the rainforest, a dozen-strong team of enthusiastic Student Librarians is making a big-size impact on child literacy.

Millet Primary School
Readers in the Rainforest. You won't find Millet Primary School (103 students, Grades K to 6) on any tourist map—the school can be found at the end of an unmarked, narrow, winding road through the rainforest—but what you will find are children, teachers, and a Principal who are super-excited about reading and their new library.

Hands Literacy Link Clara Paul mobilized everyone into a Library Team, and together they transformed a large, underutilized room of various "school stuff" into a colorful, enticing, child-friendly library space. Clara also trained a dozen children, ranging from Grades 3 to 6, as Student Librarians. All this took place several years ago, and the school's library has been chugging along happily since. Hands sent the school 539 new amazing books, plus a "reading corner" floormat, as part of the 2016-2017 shipment to St. Lucia, and we plan to "fill in the gaps" of their collection. But no amount of books can make a difference if the passion and commitment of the school staff is lacking, and these essentials are fully present at Millet Primary School, where we see the level of child literacy advancing every day.
ST. LUCIA Honorable Mentions: Anse-La-Raye Primary School • Augier Combined School • Beanefield Comprehensive Secondary School • Dugard Combined School • Entrepot Secondary School • Fond Assau Primary School • Fond St. Jacques Primary School • Lady Gordon Opportunity Centre • Monchy RC Combined School • Roblot Combined School

At Questelles Government School, the commitment to books, reading, the school library, and the advancement of child literacy is strong and getting stronger.
Questelles Government School
"Nothing can stop us now!" In terms of the emphasis on child literacy and library sustainability, not every handoff from a retiring Principal to his or her replacement goes as well as we hope. But we are very happy to report that at Questelles Government School (334 students, Grades K to 6) the embrace of books, reading, and the new school library has continued its upward climb after retiring Principal Albena Jack-Samuel (in blue, at left), who worked with Hands to establish the library, handed the school's reins to incoming Principal Donnette Ferdinand (at right, in pink). Ferdinand, who has a degree in literacy, has the full and continued support of her powerhouse staff—seven teachers at the school are highly credentialed in literacy. And Hands Literacy Link Yvette Pompey has trained ten Student Librarians, who color-coded the latest shipment of new books from Hands (in total, Hands has sent the school 1,963 new amazing books). "Nothing can stop us now!" says Principal Ferdinand. We look forward to assisting this up-and-coming rural school in the years ahead.
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES Honorable Mentions: Argyle RC Combined School • Bequia SDA Primary School • Biabou Methodist Primary School • Colonaire Primary School • C.W. Prescod Primary School • Evesham Methodist School • Fitz-Hughes Government School • Kingstown Preparatory School • Marriaqua Government School • New Grounds Primary School • North Union Secondary School • Richland Park SDA Primary School • Sion Hill Government School