The Early Years of A to Z Literacy Movement – Remembering a Decade in the Books

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By Betty Trummel

As A to Z Literacy Movement gathered momentum in 2010, other organizations started to focus their attention on our burgeoning nonprofit.  The Illinois Reading Council designated A to Z Literacy as one of their international projects for the year, classes at Husmann Elementary School collected and donated books, and the Bernotas Middle School National Jr. Honor Society held a walkathon fundraising event.

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Three shipments of books were sent to Shine Zambia Reading Academy to stock their new school library, and later in the year a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia requested books to be used at a community library for preschool orphans in Zambia and a shipment (6 boxes of books) was sent.

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In July, Mal and Husmann Elementary School teacher, Betty Trummel, traveled to Zambia to work with teachers and students at Shine Zambia Reading Academy and other local Lusaka schools.

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It was on this trip that they met a student named Jonathan Mwale and began a mentorship with him that continues to this day.

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When Mal and Betty returned to the United States, they kept sharing the key take-aways from their journey…student-created books, a book written by Betty and the Shine Zambia students that inspired her fourth graders to write their own ABC book to send back to Zambia, and connections deepened between A to Z Literacy and Zambian teachers and students.

As 2011 began A to Z Literacy Movement had its first large fundraiser, ”On the Vine:  Celebrating Books and Wine” at the Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake.  Two middle schools held fundraisers that brought in donations of over $1,300.  The McHenry Sunrise Rotary Club donated funds to ship six boxes of books to orphan homes in northern Zambia.  Husmann Elementary School teachers and students held a book drive and fifth graders raised money to purchase and send Aqua Packs to Zambia to help provide clean water where none is available.  Partnerships flourished and by the end of 2011 over 500 books had been shipped to 600 children.

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Mal and fellow educator Kalan Gott traveled to Zambia to provide professional learning and modeling of lessons for teachers and students.  Our little nonprofit was really taking off!

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