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Ten years and going strong is a remarkable achievement for a grassroots initiative that began in the imaginations of seven people determined to engage the community to raise the level of literacy of all our children.
Thousands of hours contributed by hundreds of volunteers and the largesse of individuals, families, funders and local businesses has put 100,000 books into the hands of children and educated over 1,000 parents and caregivers in the foundational skills of early literacy. I wish all of you could witness firsthand the surprised smiles of children clutching their first-ever new book, and the sometimes-tearful gratitude of mothers who take First Teacher/Primer Maestro classes.
As Children’s Reading Alliance continues to grow, we welcome new leaders to the CRA team. Current CRA director Jennifer Alvarado and incoming director Marisa DeWolf are spending this month preparing for a smooth transfer of leadership. Alvarado and DeWolf, two working mothers, are switching roles as Marisa returns to her nonprofit career and Jennifer looks forward to sharing “…all I have learned at CRA” with her own growing family.
DeWolf’s non-profit work began with her AmeriCorps experiences living and working with immigrant women and children at the Women’s Intercultural Center in Anthony, New Mexico, followed by a master’s degree in sociology, leadership at NMSU’s Student Success Center, more work with nonprofits and a career in teaching. “I am honored to be continuing the important work of Children’s Reading Alliance, offering early learning experiences for our children in Doña Ana County. As director, I see literacy as a powerful tool to provide for the wellness of all children by enriching their lives.”
The CRA Board of Directors recently elected Elaine Hampton, PhD. as their new president. In addition to her research, Hampton is an author and retired department chair of teacher education at UTEP. Her business, STEM Education Associates, conducts educational and nonprofit program evaluation projects. Hampton’s latest book, “Seekers of a Stable Sky,” offers compelling first-person testimony from women living on the U.S.-Mexico border. Hampton co-directs a Mexican nonprofit focusing on sexual abuse prevention and women’s education.
Four new board members are joining continuing directors -- Board Secretary Robert Clay Doyle, retired vice president at El Paso Electric; and Treasurer Gloria Sabo, retired Families and Youth Inc. accountant. Jan Reed, doctor of education, reading specialist and creator/director of CRA Reading Buddies mentoring program, and I are two of the seven CRA founders.
New member Duncan Smith is retired director of Boys and Girls Club of California. and national trainer for Project Learn. “I am happy to have the opportunity to promote literacy in my community and inspire children to become life-long lovers of reading,” he said.
Krystal Chavarria-Gonzalez is the early intervention program manager at Aprendamos Intervention Team in Las Cruces and Anthony.
Cheryl Carreon is a former Las Cruces Public Schools teacher of the year, and current education coordinator of Cruces Creatives.
Susan W. Brown, Ph.D., recently retired as interim dean of the NMSU College of Education. Her work has garnered national recognition for leadership, teaching and research in science education focusing on the underrepresentation of minority students and women in STEM fields. “I look forward to contributing to the work of CRA,” she said. “Every child deserves the gift of reading; that includes the enjoyment and ownership of books.”
Every time you read and share a book in 2022 you are celebrating a new decade of opportunities for all of us. Thank you and read On!
Rorie Measure is president emeritus of Children's Reading Alliance, a grassroots initiative to encourage family literacy throughout Doña Ana County. She is a reader, writer, teacher, reading specialist and literacy trainer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.