Magazine article Humanities

Making a Difference: Sharon Darling-Pursuing the Right to Read

Magazine article Humanities

Making a Difference: Sharon Darling-Pursuing the Right to Read

Article excerpt

Sharon Darling never intended to run a nationwide family literacy organization. She only meant to teach adults to read in a Kentucky church basement while their children were occupied in the nursery.

"They were so fearful, at first, that someone would find out, so ashamed. But soon, four adults became eight . then more and more just kept on coming," says Darling. In 1986, Darling had an opportunity to look at the literacy challenges facing Appalachia. "That was the birth of the family literacy program," she says. Today, four thousand family literacy programs inspired by Darling are spread across every state in America.

As president of the National Center for Family Literacy, Darling advises and educates governors, state and national policy-makers, businesses, and foundations. She serves on the boards of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, the National Coalition for Literacy, and the New School for Social Research. She has won the Woman of Distinction Award, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Education. Her message is that equitable educational opportunities should be available for all families, regardless of race, creed, geography, or social status. To achieve that goal, Darling and her team continue to read and work with different generations within families. "It's what gets me up in the morning," says Darling.

"I discovered early on that if we didn't look at the whole picture, we weren't going to be successful," Darling explains. …

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