Literacy Hero Awards – 2016 Winners

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2016 LITERACY HERO AWARDS
Great Valley Bookfest Awards Recipients
October 8, 2016

Each and every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things to promote literacy in our communities. With these awards, we celebrate the selfless acts of three regional heroes who champion the cause of literacy in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

2016 Award Recipients:

BRETT ASHUM
CHARLIE HALFORD
VERAY WICKHAM

2016 LITERACY HERO AWARD WINNERS

BRETT ASHMUN, recipient of the 2016 Literacy Hero Award

Each and every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things to promote literacy in our communities. With these awards, we celebrate the selfless acts of three regional heroes who champion the cause of literacy in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.
Brett Ashmun
Brett Ashmun is a 34-year-old educator who makes a real difference in the lives of those around him. As a faculty member at Stanislaus State and a consultant for the Great Valley Writing Project, he motivates and inspires learning by building genuine connections with human beings.
Brett cares deeply about others. In 2006, he volunteered with AmeriCorps NCCC and spent ten months providing relief to flood victims and tutoring in after school programs. His experiences in AmeriCorps had a major impact on his life, and it shaped the way he develops curriculum and the way he teaches in the classroom.
Instead of teaching memorization of facts and ideas, Ashmun focuses on improving the quality and the long-term impact of each learning experience. His lessons ask students to think and act through rousing real-life situations. Because positive relationships can dramatically increase motivation and learning, he pushes his students to form meaningful relationships with educators, with their peers, and with their community.
The students in Ashmun’s English composition course learn that writing is a community-based activity that can bridge differences in age, experiences, and perspectives. During the last school year, he took his students to a nearby nursing home to write poems about the residents, partnered them with fifth grade students to help them view their assignment through younger eyes, and introduced them to administrators at a homeless shelter to help them address serious issues with more awareness and sensitivity.
Many of his students volunteered to work beyond their writing assignments. Last year’s students organized a fund-raiser to support the “We Care” emergency shelter and support services for the homeless.
His teaching practices might seem radical, but most of his methods are based on educational philosophies and research that have been advocated by educational reformers for 150 years.
Ashmun believes that teaching students the importance of community, relationships, citizenship, and civility provides hope for a better future, and based on their responses, it seems that his students find hope as well.

 

CHARLIE HALFORD, recipient of the 2016 Literacy Hero Award

Each and every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things to promote literacy in our communities. With these awards, we celebrate the selfless acts of three regional heroes who champion the cause of literacy in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.
CharlieHalford
Charles (Charlie) Halford has lived in the greater Manteca/Lathrop area all his life and has been involved with numerous activities that have improved our community.
Charlie is a 1972 graduate of East Union High School; he received a BA degree in Criminal Justice from Cal State Sacramento in 1976. He then graduated from the Police Academy and became a USMC Certified Marksman. He had a long and distinguished career in the police force, earning two letters of commendation, the Manteca Police Officer of the Year award, and the Meritorious Service Award for rescuing two children in a fire. In 1991, he graduated from the FBI Academy, and from 1997-2007, he served as Chief of Police.
Time is very valuable for Charlie, but he is more than generous in his volunteer capacity. He has served as an officer or on the Board of Directors for many nonprofit agencies, including: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca/Lathrop, United Way of San Joaquin County, Doctors Hospital of Manteca; Give Every Child A Chance, and Great Valley Bookfest. He has served on innumerable committees to address the needs of local youth and families, and he is an active member of the Manteca Rotary.
From its inception, Charlie has been an invaluable member of the Great Valley Bookfest leadership team. Without his expertise and boundless energy, this event could never have achieved such rapid growth and popular success. As the Chairman of the Event Planning and Logistics committee, he is a central figure: advising the committee on legal regulations, traffic flow, and safety issues; negotiating many of the permits required for the event; organizing and supervising the early morning set-up for dozens of tents and trucks. He never hesitates to help in smaller ways, too – posting advertising signs, contacting community partners for donations, or just running errands.
This year, Charlie had to miss the Bookfest event because of a family wedding… but he did not leave anything to chance. He worked diligently from January through October and did everything possible to ensure that the 2016 Bookfest ran smoothly.
Charles Halford’s efforts have significantly transformed the Manteca/Lathrop community into a friendlier, more vibrant, and better-educated community – and that makes him a true Literacy Hero.

 

VERAY WICKHAM, recipient of the 2016 Literacy Hero Award

Each and every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things to promote literacy in our communities. With these awards, we celebrate the selfless acts of three regional heroes who champion the cause of literacy in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.
 
Veray Wickham
Veray Wickham was born in Ohio, but like so many families after WWII, she moved to California in 1955, settling down in San Joaquin County in 1960. She likes to quote JK Rowling: “Wherever I am, if I’ve got a book with me, I have a place I can go and be happy.”
A proud bookworm and history geek, Veray has been passionate about literacy in all its broad forms since childhood. Pouring over an encyclopedia and atlas with her dad as a child to anxiously awaiting the next Harry Potter book as an adult, she surrounds her life with the joy of reading every day.
As Executive Director of the Volunteer Center of San Joaquin from 1990-96, she trained volunteer coordinators and recruited volunteers for non-profit organizations throughout San Joaquin County, including a wide variety of programs designed to encourage literacy in people of all ages.
As Community Involvement Coordinator at San Joaquin County Office of Education, Veray managed a wide variety of grants that engaged educators in connecting their students, kindergarten through higher education, to their communities. She was the Regional Lead for a five county area providing resources for educators engaged in Service Learning, a teaching strategy that uses service projects that directly connect with classroom curriculum goals. Many service activities centered on improving reading levels in students. Older students reading with younger ones not only helped the tutee, but dramatically increased the reading level of the tutors.
The joy for Veray was being able to connect her love of reading to her passion for history. Her assignment as Regional History/Social Studies Lead and the Congressional District Coordinator for the Center for Civic Education provided her a view of the power of challenging students to a higher level of historic literacy.  Not only did these students know what The Federalist Papers are but could quote and argue them!  Obviously they and their teachers would appreciate Harper Lee’s quote “The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one that makes you think.”
Writing, being the flip-side of reading on the literacy coin, requires the ability to spell! Veray has been the San Joaquin County Spelling Bee Spell Master for 15+ years. It has been an adventure to learn tricky pronunciations, keep saying the word exactly the same numerous times in a row, and smiling kindly at the kids on shaky legs when first up to the podium.
Recently retired from the San Joaquin County Office of Education, Veray is now devoting her energies to being a docent at the San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum and engaging in and supporting Stockton Institute for Continued Learning (SICL) at Delta College. And, of course, spending many hours reading!

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Contributions

The Great Valley Bookfest is a small, non-profit organization. We are grateful to all who contribute to ensure that the festival is free to all.
or please send donations to the address below: Great Valley Bookfest P.O. Box 2188 Manteca, CA 95336