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Ridgeway, Wills get reading recognition

April 19, 2000|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Two Tri-State area residents were recognized by the State of Maryland International Reading Association Council Tuesday night for their contributions to reading and literacy.

Michele Wills and Jeff Ridgeway were nominated by the organization's local chapter, the Washington County Reading Council, for the statewide awards, according to outgoing chapter president Jim Newkirk.

Wills, educational services coordinator at The Herald-Mail for five years, received the Print Media Award.

Ridgeway, a children's librarian at the Washington County Free Library, received the Friends of Literacy Award.

Ridgeway, 45, of Ridgeway, W.Va., said that while it's always gratifying to be nominated for an award like this one, it's even more special coming from a group in which every member values reading to children as much as he does.

Reading aloud is valuable, even to adults, he said. But it's especially important with young children, whose brains and vocabulary are in heightened stages of development.

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"It's probably the single most important thing you can do for a child," said Ridgeway, who in his job does a lot of reading aloud to children in local schools.

Linda Waroblak, an elementary English/language arts resource teacher for Washington County, said she nominated Wills because she has worked with her a lot over the past two years and wanted her and the community to know how much her work with the council is appreciated.

"She has just been wonderful to work with, so helpful, so eager, just a nice person," said Waroblak, president-elect of the local council.

Wills' job at The Herald-Mail includes coordinating the Newspapers in Education program, putting together educational pages for the newspaper and working with the local council to promote literacy and reading.

While honored by the award, Wills said she wants the credit to go where it should.

"It's The Herald-Mail's dedication to education. It isn't just me. I couldn't do this if I didn't have the backing of the publisher," she said.

With her background in fund raising and her passion for reading, Wills said she thought The Herald-Mail job would be perfect for her.

She was right, she said.

"I do have the best job here at the newspaper. What I do is a community service," Wills said.

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