More Than A Book Literacy Luncheon

The 2017 More Than a Book Literacy Luncheon recognizes Georgia educators, organizations, corporations and individuals that have made significant contributions to literacy and education.

2017 Honorees

More Than a Corporation

Chick-fil-A  and Chick-Fil-A Foundation

Cox Enterprises and James M. Cox Foundation (Finalist)


More Than a Leader

Malcolm Mitchell

Arianne Weldon (Finalist)


More Than an Organization

Reach Out and Read

Books for Keeps (Finalist)


More than an Educator

Marcia Kochel

Kia Wansley (Finalist)

More than a leader

Malcolm J. Mitchell - Selected Share the Magic Foundation as the beneficiary of the $5,000 First Book grant.

A native of Valdosta, Georgia, Malcolm Mitchell did not make reading a priority when he was growing up. As a struggling young reader, it wasn’t until Malcolm’s freshman year at the University of Georgia that he developed an understanding of the importance of being a strong reader and having a love of books. Through Malcom’s perseverance, books became an avenue for expanding his curiosity, creativity and learning.

While a senior at UGA, Malcolm received an NCAA waiver to write and publish his first children’s book, The Magician’s Hat, which challenges young readers to think about what they want to be when they grow up. Read with Malcolm was formed as a youth literacy initiative and book publishing organization. In its first year, Read with Malcolm distributed The Magician’s Hat to more than 13,500 students in nearly 60 elementary schools, children’s hospitals, and community service organizations throughout the state of Georgia. Malcolm also personally visited elementary schools to host Reading Rallies, inspiring students to share his love of reading.

With the early success of The Magician’s Hat and a strong desire to increase the book’s impact on young readers, Malcolm founded in 2016 the Share the Magic Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, to promote the long-term benefits of being an active reader among students served by Title I schools and underserved communities. Share the Magic Foundation’s goal is to introduce book ownership to students in households where reading is not a priority as a means to improve youth literacy in communities where reading skills fall below grade level .

Since its inception, Read with Malcolm has distributed more than 28,000 books to 103 elementary schools, Children's hospitals, and community service organizations. Of those 28,000 books, some 21,000 have gone to some 70 schools and programs in Georgia. An additional 540 books have been distributed to teachers at education conferences within the state of Georgia. Malcolm has personally visited 34 elementary schools, including 23 within the state of Georgia, and three children's hospitals all located in Georgia.


Arianne Weldon, Finalist - Selected College Park Elementary as the beneficiary of the $2,500 First Book grant.

Get Georgia Reading—Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, is a statewide effort formed by state and community leaders who developed a common agenda as a framework for action to create the conditions for every child in Georgia to become a proficient reader by the end of third grade. Arianne Weldon has served as Campaign director since December 2012.

Get Georgia Reading has dramatically altered the way Georgia leaders think and talk about literacy. By using multi-dimensional data to identify patterns of risk and protective factors related to language and literacy development, the Campaign finds clues leading to new solutions and to change the conversation about what is needed and what is possible to create a new future for Georgia’s children. Under Arianne’s leadership, efforts have moved from largely isolated activities to a collaborative approach that aligns outcomes, policies, and resources across sectors affecting children from birth to 8, and beyond—which is yielding a collective impact.

Arianne and Campaign partners are constantly thinking about the research, who might already be applying that research, and where there are opportunities to expand, leverage, and replicate those efforts to fill gaps and meet needs by connecting with others. For example, when Arianne learned about how public libraries in California provided summer meals and educational programming to prevent summer learning loss in 2014, she brought together leaders from the Georgia Department of Education, Department of Early Care and Learning, and the Georgia Public Library Service to nourish children’s minds and bodies when they are out of school.

The partners began collaborating to provide summer meals in the 22 Georgia counties that lacked any summer meal programs. Since then, nearly 100 Georgia libraries have begun hosting summer meal programs, whittling the list of counties that lack a summer meal program down to two and increasing by nearly 20 percent the number of summer meals served. Arianne’s influence also led to the addition of “birth to 8 language and literacy” as a priority area in the Governor’s Innovation Grants, resulting in several million dollars being invested in new approaches to address early language and literacy across the state.

More than a corporation

Chick-fil-A - Selected Page Turners Make Great Learners to receive the $5,000 First Book grant.

In partnership with the Atlanta Football Host Committee, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and College Football Playoff Foundation, the Chick-fil-A Foundation co-funded the Atlanta Public Schools Literacy initiative.

The Atlanta Public Schools Literacy Initiative is a $2 million, three-year effort that targets elementary students in the Atlanta District. The Initiative, which started in June 2017, offers APS teachers training in the Orton-Gillingham approach to literacy—a method that uses instruction in sight, hearing, touch, and movement to help students connect language with letters and words.

The APS Literacy Initiative enables the district to partner with the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education – a leading provider of direct, systematic, and sequential instruction that empowers educators to teach the foundation of the English language – to run the training sessions.

In the program’s first year, 500 kindergarten and first-grade teachers will be trained. By 2020, all 1,500 APS instructors teaching kindergarten through fourth grade will be equipped to deliver this high-quality literacy instruction to 25,000 APS elementary school students.

Cox Enterprises, Inc. and the James M. Cox Foundation, Finalist - Selected East Lake Foundation for Drew Charter School to receive a $2,500 First Book grant.

Cox Enterprises, Inc. and the James M. Cox Foundation are being recognized for their extraordinary commitment to providing a strong foundation in literacy.

Operating in partnership with the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School, the Cox Pre-K Program prepares students to enter kindergarten ready to learn and on a path to read-to-learn by third grade.

Another outcome of the partnership is the translation of the research and best practices into online courses via the Cox Campus. This universally accessible virtual campus is free for teachers and offers feedback by highly trained live coaches, as well as a virtual assistant that provides information via e-mail and text. Instructional videos are captured in diverse sites around Georgia, designed to show teachers how to implement strategies in classrooms that look like their own.

Cox Campus courses are free and open to all, providing access to training for parents, and others who are interested in building a child's literacy potential. The Cox Campus benefits thousands of teachers in Georgia and beyond, as well as countless students everywhere.

More than an educator

Marcia Kochel - Selected Druid Hills Middle School as the beneficiary of the $5,000 First Book grant.

Before serving as teacher-librarian at Druid Hills Middle School, Marcia Kochel taught at an Atlanta-area private school where access to books and technology was no issue. But her heart and passion drew Marcia to a public Title I school with 930 students, many of whom are eligible for free and reduced lunches.

Marcia orients students to the library and works with them and teachers to ensure that they know how to engage the library effectively. An enthusiastic reader herself, Marcia makes fantastic book recommendations to individual students after having conversations with them, and she gives compelling book talks to classes that leave kids clamoring to check out books. In the two years that Marcia has been at Druid Hills, book circulation in the library tripled from 900 to 2,700 per month.

Marcia also helps students make connections between literacy and the world. Last year, as part of efforts to strengthen literacy of students with limited English, she brought in an author who writes novels about young people and immigration. She invited the leader of a nonprofit organization that helps families visit loved ones in immigration detention centers. The middle school students who met with the nonprofit leader and the author decided to write letters of friendship and support to detainees. In a profoundly moving moment, one student found his own brother’s name on the list of detainees, and he and his friends were able to write to him in Spanish. Before that day, the student had not known it was even possible to write to his brother.

Marcia Kochel takes a deeply relational approach to her work. She gets to know students on a personal level, understanding that she applies when recruiting students to join book clubs, matching kids across reading levels, and leading the book clubs in engaging discussions. In 2017, over 130 kids signed up to meet in book clubs before and after school and during lunch. Interwoven with this community-building activity is the development of a prized literary culture at the school.

Kia Wansley, Finalist - Selected Hightower Elementary School as the beneficiary of the $2,500 First Book grant.

In her role as teacher-librarian at Hightower Elementary School, Kia Wansley helps create and foster the love of reading by using effective technology tools, hosting events, and collaborating with teachers from various grade levels.

Kia believes that reading should be celebrated year-round and the school’s calendar of events supports that belief. From Jumpstart for Reading in October, where every class reads the same book throughout the day and a storyteller visits the school to read to Pre-K and kindergarten students to The Polar Express Extravaganza, where the media center is transformed into a setting from the film Polar Express, All of this awe-inspiring activity culminates during Children’s Book Week in May. A highlight of that week is the Children’s Book Parade. Kia coordinates with the City of Doraville to close down the street in front of the school so that parents, neighbors, and all can see the procession of delighted students dressed as their favorite book characters. Closing the week, every student receives a new book to take home.

More than an organization

Reach Out and Read Georgia - Will receive a $5,000 First Book grant.

Founded in 1989 at The Boston City Hospital, Reach Out and Read (ROR) was conceptualized by a group of pediatricians and early childhood educators concerned about the academic underperformance prevalent in our nation’s elementary schools, particularly in low-income regions.

With a mission to prepare our youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with pediatricians to “prescribe” books and encourage families to read together, ROR Georgia is imbedded in systems in Georgia that are focused on one goal – to make sure that when children arrive at kindergarten they are ready to learn to read.

ROR’s primary activity follows a three-part model: Doctors advise parents of the importance of reading aloud to their children daily; they offer research-based early literacy guidance, starting a birth, and share this information and encourage the activity in the pediatric exam room. Every child—from birth to five—receives a new developmentally and culturally appropriate book to take home during well-child checkups. Parents receive the “prescription for reading” and incorporate reading aloud into their daily activities. Prior to kindergarten, ROR families read up to 350 hours with their children.

ROR Georgia is also a leader with Learn4Life – a collaborative educational effort between the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and the United Way of Greater Atlanta. Experts recommended ROR Georgia as the leading early literacy intervention in Georgia to the Learn4Life Advisory Board, comprised of eight metro Atlanta Superintendents, Georgia business and health leaders, and community organizations.

In just five short years, ROR Georgia has grown to serve more than a hundred thousand children and families in Georgia – up from 56,000 in 2012 – growth of nearly 90 percent.

Books for Keeps, Finalist - Will receive a $2,500 First Book grant.

Since 2009, Books for Keeps has given more than 340,000 books to children from low-income families in grades pre-K through 12. For 11 months of the year, the organization collects, inspects, sorts, and boxes books¾and gives them away each May.

Books for Keeps’ primary program, Stop Summer Slide!, is a research-based effort to end the learning loss suffered by many children when they are away from school. Children from low-income families are disproportionately affected by this loss, often due to a simple lack of access to books.

Books for Keeps bridges the gap by giving them high-quality, exciting books with contemporary titles. The children come, one class at a time, to their school’s media center and select the books they would most like to own. Volunteers help children find the books they want, and ask the students questions that help us align our book-collection needs for the following year. 

Books for Keeps provides 12 books per elementary student in May of each school year. In 2017, Stop Summer Slide! served every child in 11 Athens elementary schools, two schools in Atlanta, one school in Elberton, and one school in Warrenton – a total of 6,000 students. According to BFK, the strategy is proven to have a similar benefit to those attending summer school, but at a fraction of the cost.

Outlook Outlook
iCal iCal
Google Google
Yahoo! Yahoo!