It Only Takes One

Katie Heath is Northeast Regional Chapter Coordinator at Kappa Delta Pi.

John said of his mother, “She loved Aaron Rodgers of The Green Bay Packers and french toast. This is the picture used at her memorial and I can say it was real to all who attended.”

John said of his mother, “She loved Aaron Rodgers of The Green Bay Packers and french toast. This is the picture used at her memorial, and I can say it was real to all who attended.”

Earlier this year, more than 1,200 books were donated to a low-income community in southern Wisconsin. More than 600 people between the ages of 3 and 78, all across the community, received the books.

You’re probably thinking that this was a huge initiative, led by a large group of people as one collective venture. But in reality, all 1,200 books donated were the result of the efforts of a single individual, John MacDonald.

John recently served as the president of the Alpha Epsilon Xi Chapter and has now transitioned into the Associate Counselor role to assist in leading the KDP chapter at Walden University.

His goal in completing this Literacy Alive! project was to honor his mother, who passed away in 2013. His mother was committed to giving back to others and wanted to help people improve their literacy skills. When donating the books, John focused on low-income families and those learning English as a new language.

John is just one example of why membership in Kappa Delta Pi means more than just a line on your résumé. Every day, members like John are living out the ideals of Kappa Delta Pi (fidelity to humanity, science, service, and toil) and are the reason this organization has an esteemed reputation within the education community.

Fidelity to Humanity – I can’t think of a better example of fidelity to humanity than John’s desire to serve his community and honor his mother. John showed compassion to those in his town; a commitment to improving the human condition through literacy; and dedication to continuous education with equal opportunities for people of all ages, races, and creeds.

Science – John’s desire to support literacy in his community shows that he is faithful to the cause of free inquiry and that he is committed to helping others have access to resources they need to continue lifelong learning.

Service – If you had to describe John’s “Book Exchange” project with one word, you might choose the word service. Every part of the initiative had serving others in mind—serving those in the community and simultaneously honoring his mother by continuing her dedication to serving others.

Toil – For me personally, toil is always the hardest of the ideals Kappa Delta Pi represents to live out daily. Toil is doing a task that must be done regardless of whether the task pleases oneself. Reading through John’s project submission almost brought tears to my eyes; I am thankful every day for the family members that surround me and that, as an adult, I am still able to live in the same city as my parents. I truly can’t imagine the pain and struggle of losing a parent, and I applaud John for choosing to honor his mother during a difficult time of grief and loss.

If you read our previous blog post about Literacy Alive! you know that I love supporting KDP’s signature service initiative because I get to hear about the wonderful events hosted by chapters and members all across the country. I hope more of you are inspired by John’s amazing example of how a single servant’s heart can touch the lives of so many.

Your Generosity Blows Us Away!

Katie Heath is Northeast Regional Chapter Coordinator at Kappa Delta Pi.

Armstrong Atlantic State University

Armstrong Atlantic State University

I can honestly say that working with Kappa Delta Pi’s signature service initiative–Literacy Alive!is a huge reason I love working for KDP. As part of my role as Literacy Alive! Coordinator, I have the privilege of reading the submissions of each Literacy Alive! project completed both by collegiate chapters and by individual KDP practicing educators. I wish all of you could read each project as I have, as they truly are windows into the hearts of KDP members everywhere.

To all of you who supported Literacy Alive! this year, we thank you. Through your efforts in collecting books for those in need, tutoring students one-on-one, introducing elementary students to the prospect of attending college and inspiring them to set goals and dreams, or working to embrace multiculturalism in your community, you all answered the call of need from those in your community.

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University

It is easy to look at all of these service projects and be proud to be part of this prestigious Society, but what struck my heart the most was all of YOU. Your humble, serving attitude is beyond admirable. Over the last year in my role as an RCC, I have heard about numerous service projects not even submitted as Literacy Alive! projects for recognition from the Society simply because this was never the goal in completing the event. Instead of viewing those you serve as fortunate for attending your events, you shared that the KDP members were the fortunate ones for the opportunity to serve.

When we asked what chapter members learned from participating in their chapter’s Literacy Alive! project, many of you answered that this initiative gave chapter members an opportunity to share the ideals of Kappa Delta Pi with those in the community.

University of Maine

University of Maine

It is infinitely rewarding for us to hear that KDP members gained real world experience through serving those around you. It is infinitely rewarding for us to hear that local schools and principals initially asked you to come into their schools or are asking for you to return next year, simply due to the wonderful example that you have set as part of your KDP chapter. It is infinitely rewarding to see the legacy that you are leaving on your community and local chapter. And it is infinitely rewarding for us to work to support all of you each and every day as you continue to serve.

Jump on the Literacy Alive! Bandwagon

Anne Boley is event and executive coordinator at Kappa Delta Pi.

Literacy Alive! project flyerKDP Headquarters staff has jumped on the Literacy Alive! bandwagon, and we thought you might enjoy hearing about our involvement in KDP’s signature service project.

We are working on a magazine harvest project for MagazineLiteracy.org. It’s such a simple concept and so easy to implement, yet it can have profound effects on promoting literacy.

Here’s how it works: staff, with the help of friends, family and neighbors, are collecting magazines of all types that are in good condition. We donate these to MagazineLiteracy.org, and they offer them to various organizations in need of reading materials for children and families. The magazines might go to a homeless shelter, a school program, or possibly a job training program.

Magazine collection editWe are recycling magazines while helping with literacy at the same time. It’s a great project that combines our focus on sustainability with our focus on literacy.

Our initial goal was to collect 500 magazines by July 1. We have already passed that goal and are setting a new goal of 1,000 magazines! It’s always amazing to see what people can accomplish when they work together.

The Life of Literacy

mark twain

Carrie Gaffney is the managing editor of The Educational Forum. She spent twelve years as a secondary English teacher and is still active in The National Writing Project and Second Story, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit devoted to bringing creativity to underserved schools.  

I have a distinct memory from my first year as a teacher:

I worked in the heart of Indianapolis at one of the city’s most troubled schools as a “supplemental” English teacher (“Supplemental” being a nice of way of saying, “Your skills are so far behind you need two hours of English a day instead of one.”)

As you can imagine, teaching what we referred to as “last stop English” to high school students who read and wrote well below grade level was challenging for everyone involved. Beyond the basic mistrust my students felt for a first-year teacher who clearly was in over her head was a deeper issue: It was clear watching my students in their daily interactions that they were not connected to their reading and writing.

And it bugged me.

So one day, I gathered my students close to me and told them I wanted to tell them the story of how I first fell in love. Amid the snickers and eye rolls, I wove the tale of first grade, when I had to stay home from school for three weeks while I recovered from pneumonia. At first I was too sick to care, but then really sick turned into sort of sick, and six year-old Mrs. Gaffney got really, really bored.

That’s when my father introduced me to my first love, Mark Twain. Every night before I went to bed, my father pulled out his old copy of The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain and read me “The Story of the Good Little Boy” and “The Story of the Bad Little Boy.” We’d laugh and laugh about the misadventures of these two characters, and every night I would hear something new in Twain’s words I hadn’t noticed the night before.

I told my students that my experience with Twain at age six was the first time I realized reading really was a relationship. It was more than a way to forget I was trapped in my house; during that time, reading became my friend. It also became a way for me to connect with my father in a way I have not forgotten.

From under my chair, I then brought out The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain for my students, inviting them to run their fingers along the yellowed pages and even suggesting they smell the spine. As they passed it from person to person, it was one of the only times during my first year I can remember absolute silence in the room.

Of course, the moment ended, and it was back to business as usual in class. But I’d like to think that maybe, just for a moment, some of my reluctant students glimpsed the power of what reading actually does for people.

In the United States there are 32 million adults who can’t read, a number that seems small considering there are 774 million adults who can’t read worldwide. Two-thirds of that 774 million are women, a statistic that breaks my heart every time I think about what this lack of literacy indicates about their lives, and the lives of their children.

Literacy means something. It gives you opportunities you didn’t know you had; it connects you with people you might not otherwise connect with. And in my case, it gave me a lifelong friend in Mark Twain.

That’s one of the reasons Literacy Alive is the signature service project of Kappa Delta Pi. As an organization, KDP understands that as long as students aren’t invested in what they’re reading, everyone loses out. Literacy Alive projects are designed to connect students to books, their immediate communities, and the global community, and they place importance on what matters most as we examine literacy from a universal perspective: getting books in the hands of all children.

On International Literacy Day, I would like teachers to think about when they first fell in love with a book or a character.  When did you know that reading was more than a skill to be learned? And what will you do to bring Literacy Alive in your classrooms?