A plot twist once more

Retired Moffat County schoolteacher wins award for work in state literacy association

— Paulette Bray's teaching career has taken many turns, perhaps as many as the stories her former elementary-level students read.

The plot line began in 1979, the year Bray arrived in Colorado.

After having taught in Idaho, Texas, Kansas and California, she came to Craig that year and taught at a school for fourth- and fifth-graders.

When the school closed, she transferred to Ridgeview Elementary and taught fifth grade. And, later, first, second and third grades.

It was a career that offered challenges, she said, adding, "All those just help you grow."

Enter a new twist to the plot line, courtesy of an announcement from the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association.

Bray, a retired Moffat County teacher, has been a CCIRA member for more than 20 years.

Those years weren't idle.

She served on literacy committees, helped organize the association's annual reading conference and became one of several founding members of the Sagebrush Reading Council, a local branch of the state association.

Association membership had its rewards, Bray said.

"It puts you in touch with people in the field," she said. "It opens up a broad spectrum of resources," including authors and college professors.

On Friday, the association will give back to Bray by awarding her the Fannie Stabenow Award.

CCIRA presents the accolade to one or more of its members annually in recognition of their "outstanding contributions" to the association, the CCIRA Web site reported.

This is where the story's irony comes in.

Bray is well acquainted with Stabenow Award requirements.

She once chaired the award's selection committee.

This year, her colleagues found the same qualities in Bray as she had spotted in past nominees: commitment to state and local activities that promote child literacy.

"Anything that has to do with literacy is important," she said. "If (students) can't read, they can't achieve any of their goals in life - not just college goals, but anything."

Does Bray deserve the award?

"Very much so," said Janele Husband, CCIRA assistant state coordinator, who has known Bray for more than 20 years.

"She's very innovative," she said. "She's always looking for new ideas."

Still, Bray deferred much of the credit to her associates at the CCIRA and Sagebrush Reading Council who nominated her.

"The biggest honor is having my colleagues and friends nominate me," she said. "It's not that I've done more than they have - I'm just older."

Bridget Manley can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com.

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