Literacy Spotlight: Readers to Leaders

Marla Elsea
Sep 22, 2021

In addition to being National Literacy Month, September is also peak hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean. In September 2017, two hurricanes made their way across the Turks and Caicos Islands causing extensive damage. For Anna Handte-Reinecker, earning a Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant meant the opportunity to help those impacted recover some of the losses.

The small fishing island of South Caicos was hit particularly hard by the hurricanes with schools, homes and public buildings sustaining severe damage. "The Iris Stubbs Primary School and island library were completely destroyed, while the other schools were left in various states of destruction and disrepair," said Handte-Reinecker. Though years have passed since, the island continues to rebuild and the negative impacts of the hurricane still linger.

Handte-Reinecker applied for a Literacy Grant and set out to make a difference. In support of the approximately 400 students on the island, the project's main focus was to provide literacy supplies that included bilingual material, activity books, Caribbean literature and more. "By providing teachers with a wide variety of books, the goal is for students to leave the classroom better prepared to succeed in their exams and throughout their lives," she said.

With support from the School for Field Studies Center for Marine Resource Studies, on South Caicos, and a Literacy Grant from Phi Kappa Phi, Handte-Reinecker was able to purchase more than 200 books that were sent to the island earlier this summer. The materials were delivered to three schools on the island to prepare for the students' return this fall.

Looking to the future, Handte-Reinecker hopes that the book delivery will "will help students explore different cultures, nurture a love of reading, and support teachers in various subjects from pre-kindergarten through high school."

Click here to learn more about Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grants or to sign up for a reminder when applications open in December.