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Drake celebrates International Literacy Day, community efforts

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Archie Willard, recipient of the National Literacy Leadership Award, Laura Walth from the Des Moines Public Library and Anne Murr.

 The Drake University School of Education recently partnered with
community literacy advocates to celebrate International Literacy Day.

The Sept. 8 event, which was held at the Des Moines Central Library,
marked the second annual “Celebrating Community Literacy” event. The
event was sponsored by the Drake Adult Literacy Center (DUALC) and highlights local and statewide volunteer organizations that promote literacy.

“The goal of the event was to raise awareness about the role that
literacy plays in our community’s vitality,” said Anne Murr, coordinator
for DUALC. “It’s also an opportunity to connect groups and individuals
that focus on literacy.”

The event, which also was sponsored by the Des Moines Public
Library, featured a “Literacy Across the Lifetime Panel,” which held a
discussion on the steps being taken to address literacy concerns related
to different age groups.

Murr served on the panel with other community members, including:

  • Elisabeth Buck, agency director for Iowa Workforce Development
  • Angela Connolly, chair of the Polk County Board of Supervisors
  • Mike Hutchinson, district manager at Dollar General
  • Molly Olinger Topf, program director of Reach Out and Read
  • Georgia Sheriff, director of Drake Head Start 
  • Tyler Weig, executive director of Everybody Wins! Iowa 
  • Laura Walth, librarian for the Des Moines Public Library
  • Archie Willard, literacy recruiter for Adult Basic Education at Iowa Central Community College

At the celebration, Willard was honored with a 2010 National
Coalition for Literacy (NCL) Leadership Award, which recognizes
individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions
to improving literacy in the United States.

A dyslexic who learned to read at the age of 54, Willard, of Eagle
Grove, Iowa, is now a national literacy advocate who recruits volunteer
tutors and encourages adults with reading problems to get involved in
education programs. Read more about his story online: http://www.readiowa.org/archiew.html.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a longtime activist for individuals with
disabilities, will also receive an NCL Literacy Leadership Award.
Willard and Harkin are two of five 2010 recipients of the national