Literacy series earns statewide recognition, brings renowned authors to campus
The idea of reaching more people is very important to us. Just as important is maintaining those strong connections we have with the surrounding school system and library. That’s what really makes this program worthwhile.”
Radford University’s community partnership with Radford Public Library has received statewide recognition for its “Radford Reads + Radford University” literacy series that brings renowned authors to campus and connects students with the broader community.
The partnership between the public library and the University received the Virginia Public Library Directors Association Award for Outstanding Program in Cooperative Program for the spring 2018 event, “Radford Reads with Cece Bell and Radford University.”
Bell, an award-winning children’s author and illustrator, presented at Radford University on April 11, 2018. She also spoke at the Radford Public Library a few weeks later.
Radford University’s School of Teacher Education and Leadership and Teaching Resources Center, both housed within the College of Education and Human Development, as well as McConnell Library, sponsored Bell’s talk in partnership with the Radford Public Library. Committee members are Carol Bland, Ph.D., professor in STEL; Meghan Viet, Director of the Teaching Resources Center; Beth Johnson, Head of Access Services at McConnell Library; and Elizabeth Sensabaugh, Director of the Radford Public Library.
This year, “Radford Reads + Radford University" brought another celebrated children’s author and illustrator to campus and the surrounding community: Henry Cole. Cole, a Virginia native and former educator, spoke with students, faculty and staff in the Bonnie Auditorium on April 11, 2019. His thoughtful and inspiring presentation moved many in the audience.
Using his colorful illustrations, Cole navigated through memories of his childhood by celebrating the teachers and mentors who nurtured his upbringing and understanding of the world around him.
“Many of our students were brought to tears,” Viet said. “Henry was really able to connect with them and inspire them as future educators.”
Cole also spoke and interacted with elementary-aged students at two Radford City Public Schools. Those visits were coordinated by Lori Keister from McHarg Elementary and Bethany Worrell from Belle Heth Elementary.
“He lit up the place," Viet said. “They were so tuned into him.”
During a school visit, students were encouraged to draw pictures of inspiration. Cole was especially keen on one child’s illustration and asked the boy if he could hang it in his house. The boy signed the photo.
"I have no doubt that the photo is hanging in Henry’s home today,” Johnson said. "That was a real moment."
And, that connection, Johnson added, is the real reason why earning the recent recognition is so rewarding.
The planning committee is already looking forward to next year’s “Radford Reads + Radford University” events, which are planned for April 2020. They are currently researching opportunities to expand the program and grow additional community partnerships.
“The idea of reaching more people is very important to us,” Johnson said. “Just as important is maintaining those strong connections we have with the surrounding school system and library. That’s what really makes this program worthwhile.”