2016 CLIA Winners Announced
Three Alaskans with a passion for the spoken and written word are the winners of the 2016 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska (CLIA) Awards. Regan Brooks, Kathryn Ohle and Don Rearden were recognized in a July 12 presentation held in conjunction with UAA’s MFA program in Creative Writing.
Alaska Center for the Book, Alaska’s liaison with the U.S. Library of Congress Center for the Book, has presented the awards annually since 1993. More than 75 previous winners from across the state include librarians, teachers, writers, tutors, learning programs and others who foster literacy, the literary arts and preservation of language.
Regan Brooks is the founder of Story Works Alaska, an all-volunteer organization that provides storytelling workshops to several Anchorage-area high schools. Storytellers and coaches work with students on skills that transfer to reading, writing and public speaking. Story Works Alaska also encourages connections among students and their communities. A former high school science teacher, Brooks began the program in 2014 with support from Vik Patel of Arctic Entries and teachers Temperance Tinker and Rachel Kittoe of West Anchorage High School; more than 1,000 students have taken part since then.
Kathryn Ohle, PhD, is the recipient of CLIA’s Sue Sherif Literacy Award, named for a longtime Alaska librarian pivotal in supporting literacy efforts through the state library system. Ohle, assistant professor of Early Childhood Education at UAA, spearheaded “Supporting the Preservation of Native Languages and Encouraging Early Literacy with Children’s Books.” The collaborative project works with United for Literacy, students and families to provide free children’s books in Alaska Native languages via a free digital library with translated texts.
Don Rearden was raised in southwest Alaska, which is the setting for much of his writing. He is the author of the award-winning novel “The Raven’s Gift,” chosen as book of the year for the Anchorage Reads program in 2015. He describes himself as “a screenwriter, a novelist, and when the mood hits, a poet and tundra philosopher.” He is also a well-regarded associate professor at UAA and was founding board president of 49 Writers. A former Native Youth Olympics coach, he continues to work with rural Alaska youngsters in video and other writing and suicide prevention programs. His debut work of non-fiction, Never Quit, will be published by St. Martins in March 2017.
The CLIA Awards were resented on July 12 in conjunction with UAA’s MFA program in Creative Writing.