As you ponder the footprint you will leave behind on this glorious planet of ours, I invite you to consider launching a legacy of literacy. Essential literacy skills comprise the springboard for a myriad of dreams, and communicating a clear message is often what separates tries from triumphs.
Furthermore, teaching another to relish a book or craft a sentence that can stir the heart can often spawn success stories far exceeding our everyday expectations.
Such is the case of my dear friend and beloved mentor, Maxine Huffman, who retired from the Allen County Education Partnership in 2012 at the tender age of 92.
During her 28 years in the education department of IPFW, she played a key role in the development of more than 8,000 teachers. At ACEP she served as the curriculum developer for the two branches of Project READS, an early literacy program that serves students in grades K-3 striving to reach grade-level reading goals.
Through the parent workshops, Huffman reached the families of 6,607 students while introducing a workshop series created especially for kindergarten readiness. Through the student program, her work affected 2,607 children.
Factoring in the students who passed through the 8,000 teachers’ classrooms, the parents who made learning fun for their entire brood, and the volunteers who learned valued techniques to share with all of the children in their lives, the numbers become astronomical.
Fortunately, our legacy need not extend into the superhuman stratosphere. It can begin as simply as completing a Project READS volunteer application.
Another of the truly great things about such a legacy is that there is no minimum age requirement to start.
When my buddy Mitch was in first grade, he was assigned to a highly intensive reading intervention program called Reading Recovery, designed for students in the lowest 25 percent of the class. Eager to afford her son any and all available support, Mitch’s mother enrolled him in the student program and herself in the parent workshops.
Mitchell proudly graduated from Project READS and eventually became a volunteer tutor. He and his Snider High School track coach even worked Mitch’s training schedule around his tutoring obligation. Little Carson, Mitch’s assigned student, became an ardent fan who found his way to many of Mitch’s track meets, shouting support at the top of his lungs. Carson graduated from Project READS in 2011 and fifth grade in 2013.
And my buddy Mitch? Well, he just returned for his sophomore year at West Point. As it turns out, his dedicated volunteer tutors just may have launched a legacy of literacy that could one day have global implications. Pretty powerful stuff.
As August winds down, I earnestly invite you to ponder your response to the momentous question, What will be your legacy? Whether you launch a legacy of literacy or pursue a different personal passion, I salute you.
Should you wish to share your story, I would love to read all about it. Whether grand or seemingly modest, I have no doubt that it would be chock full of some pretty powerful stuff.