Playing dual roles as Ridgeview Elementary School's literacy coordinator and president of the Sagebrush Reading Council, Sue Goodenow's commitment to literacy is a large and often thankless task.
But on April 22, the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association recognized Goodenow's council with a statewide council award and the prestigious nationwide Honor Council award.
"Sagebrush is the reading council that represents all of northwest Colorado, including all of Steamboat (Springs), Craig, Meeker, Rangely and Hayden," Goodenow said. "I'm very proud of the reading council, we've worked very hard all year with all of our projects."
The council provides books for dental and medical offices and for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association to distribute during 'well-baby' home visits. The group also hosts a literacy carnival annually and "Books in Backpacks," a campaign that loads backpacks for children displaced from quarantined methamphetamine homes.
Goodenow sees these projects as evidence of the council's direct affect on the community.
These community projects helped Sagebrush win the International Reading Association's state Columbine award, accepted by Goodenow from the association's board of directors April 22 in Denver.
But Sagebrush volunteers' efforts beyond regional boundaries won them the Honor Council award.
The council assisted with the recent "Books for the Bayou" drive that provided books for hurricane-ravaged libraries in Louisiana and raised money to send to a sister reading association in South Africa.
Fellow Ridgeview teacher Janele Husband serves on the International Reading Association's executive committee as the associate state coordinator. The Colorado council supports the local councils on the Western Slope.
Husband is going to the annual International Reading Association conference in Chicago this weekend to accept Sagebrush's national Honor Council award.
"Only four Colorado councils (out of 21) won, but the other three receiving Honor Council awards were much larger Eastern Slope communities that have many more resources available, like colleges and better access to published writers," Husband said.
Husband thinks Sagebrush has been able to make up for its shortage of resources with eager public participation and Goodenow's tireless leadership.
"We've been successful from active membership and a supportive community. Sue has also worked so hard and done a lot of paperwork to accomplish the things she has," Husband said.
Other Sagebrush members struggle to find the words to express the depth of their appreciation for their diligent president, especially when they look ahead to next year, when Goodenow plans to teach abroad in the United Kingdom as part of the exclusive Fulbright Program elementary teaching exchange.
"She's irreplaceable," said Julia Sperl, five-year member and Sagebrush secretary.
"She takes care of anything the state needs to know about, numbers counted, any communication. She plans January's literacy carnival, she brings in authors. She took on a huge job. She leads the way, makes plans and she's very dedicated."
East Elementary School literacy coordinator Carolyn Casinger also agreed that Goodenow does an excellent job.
"She's very organized, dedicated and a hard worker," Casinger said.
She is fully aware of the president's daunting workload. She will be stepping in to fill Goodenow's shoes as council president next year in her absence.
With Goodenow's efforts to shape a successful reading council full of supportive and active members, Casinger said she will be able to continue Sagebrush's valuable, and now nationally recognized, community work.