Fiona Clare, Literacy Outreach Coordinator for Literacy in Kamloops by being presented with the Owl Award from SD73 (Kamloops-Thompson) by Karl deBruijn (left) and SD73 Chair Kathleen Karpuk (r). Submitted photo:

Fiona Clare gets Owl Awarded for sparking a love of reading

If wise owls are the stuff of storybooks, then it stands to reason that a well-known local champion of literacy has received the Owl Award from School District No. 73 (Kamloops-Thompson).

Fiona Clare, Literacy Outreach Coordinator for Literacy in Kamloops was recognized with the Award for Excellence in Public Education for her contributions to learning throughout the region at the regular public meeting of Board of Education on Monday, Dec. 17.

“We are proud to honour Fiona Clare for supporting the foundational skill of reading,” said Chair Kathleen Karpuk, SD73. “Her efforts were not about teaching children to read, but gifting children and adults the joy of reading—she’s been the match to light the fire of learning throughout School District 73.”

An English teacher by profession, Clare has committed the better part of 20 years to actively supporting the foundational skill of reading based on the premise that children who read the most, read the best, achieve the highest and stay in school the longest.

Her legacy to literacy began by coordinating the One-to-One Reading Program at Barriere Ridge Primary in 1998 when it was first introduced to seven schools in the district. The program soon grew and now includes 22 of 33 in the district. Last year 240 tutors read with 450 students, totalling a staggering 11,000 volunteer hours. The reading program was the catalyst for many of the ongoing or annual literacy initiatives in the region today.

These include Come Read with Me, Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week, Adult Learner Literacy Tutors, KRCC Story Book Program, Bright Red Book Bus, Bright Red Bookshelf, and Heap the Honda.

“This is such an honour, but honestly I am just grateful that I have had the opportunity over the past 20 years to do what I most love to do – help children catch a love of reading,” Clare said. “It is such rewarding work, made possible by hundreds of caring volunteers, community partnerships and wonderful in-kind support from the School District. When we work together, we can make a bigger difference.”

For retired superintendent Karl deBruijn, there was no question that Fiona Clare embodied the purpose of the award and was worthy of a nomination.

“Fiona’s contribution towards helping people to become literate has gone beyond helping students in our schools and has extended far into the community,” he said in his nomination letter. “She believes that literacy is important for everyone, no matter how old or young they are.”

Established in 2015 by former superintendent Dr. Terry Sullivan, the Owl Award is for an individual, group or organization that has made significant, system-wide and outstanding contributions to public education in School District No. 73 over a period of time (five years or more), and have had a positive, significant impact on the development of students, parents, teachers, support staff and educational leaders.

A five-member review team consisting of Ken Christian, former Board Chair; Beverly Ruberg, retired SD73 Vice-Principal; Dr Terry Sullivan, Superintendent (retired); Kathleen Karpuk, Chair; and Rob Schoen, Assistant Superintendent; recommended Fiona Clare as the recipient of the School District No. 73 Award for Excellence in Public Education.

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