Love of books shows love to kids

Local teacher Joanne Steedman this year’s literacy award winner for her tireless promotion of literacy

Joanne Steedman loves books. And she loves sharing her passion with her students, setting the next generation up for success.

Ms. Steedman is the Kindergarten / grade 1 teacher at Edgewater Elementary School (EES). For her commitment to promoting literacy, the Community Literacy Planning Committee (CLPC) presented her with the 2018 Community Literacy Award.

The Community Literacy Award is given to a person or organization that goes the extra mile to support literacy in our community, said Sandy Kalesnikoff, community literacy coordinator with the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL).

“Celebrating and recognizing the promotion of literacy is important to both CBAL and the CLPC,” said Ms. Kalesnikoff, who bestowed the award to Ms. Steedman Friday, May 31st.

Ms. Kalesnikoff said it is of great value to have literacy advocates like Ms. Steedman in the Valley.

“We all know how important literacy is. But having people who do that extra to promote literacy, it helps keep it forefront in the community,” said Ms. Kalesnikoff.

Ms. Steedman was nominated because of her passion for literacy. The nominator noted that she “promotes and celebrates literacy” through extra literacy-based activities as part of her daily teaching, connecting with the Radium Public Library for school events such as Family Literacy Week, and checking out books every week for children in her class. She has organized a buddy reading program at the library, where school-aged children read with adult volunteers to increase their reading and comprehension skills. She also sat on the Radium Library board for seven years, and promotes the use and engagement of the public library in her community.

“I love books. I’ve always loved books,” Ms. Steedman remarked. “I really enjoy reading and I hope that kids that have been in my class get that from me.”

As a Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Steedman introduces kids to reading and literary skills.

“One of the best parts of being a teacher is when the light goes on all of a sudden, and they can read independently,” she said. “They go from sounding out letters, blending letter sounds together into words, all of a sudden into ‘I can read’.”

She loves when older students at the tight-knit school come into her class for buddy reading and seeing how far they have progressed since leaving her brightly-decorated classroom.

Ms. Steedman praised the work of the Radium Public Library, and the strong connections built between the library and Edgewater Elementary School. The new space has opened up opportunities for more engagement, programming, and opportunities for Edgewater and Radium kids, she pointed out.

While Ms. Steedman praised the great library in Invermere, she said it is wonderful that if you live in Edgewater, you do not have to go all the way to Invermere to access great library resources.

“You can get those services in Radium, in a beautiful spot.”

Especially living in a small community, literacy becomes all the more valuable, she added.

“We live in a beautiful place. It’s small. So there are all these other worlds are out there that they can access through books,” she said. And, after all, she said of her strong promotion of literacy: “kids and books just go together!”

Ms. Steedman humbly pointed out there were many other community members who would be well deserving of this literacy award. CBAL recognized the other nominees as well: the Rotary club, Al Miller, and the Columbia Valley Rockies.

“Thank you for all you do to support literacy in the Valley,” Ms. Kalesnikoff said of all the nominees.

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