The Berkeley Public Education Foundation this week recognizes four Leaders in Literacy, all of whom have shown imagination and determined effort to broaden student literacy in Berkeley.

BPEF says: “We applaud their initiative, leadership, and unwavering belief that access to the written word is a pathway to opportunity, expression, and thoughtful participation in a democratic society.” The honorees will be presented with their awards at the BPEF’s annual spring luncheon on Friday. The four honorees are:

Richard Silberg, Drama Teacher, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. A 22-year veteran of Berkeley schools, Richard first taught 6th grade at Columbus Elementary beginning in 1988. In 1991, Richard moved to  King Middle School and, with his colleague Phoebe Tanner, opened the first 6th grade class in any Berkeley middle school. Richard became the first actor hired by Berkeley’s Shotgun Players. At the urging of Principal Neil Smith, Richard first began teaching drama at King in 1995, and today at least two-thirds of King’s students have a class with Richard at some point during their three-year tenure.

Jabari Anderson, Two-Way Immersion Teacher, Cragmont Elementary. In his eleventh year as a teacher in 1st and 2nd grade multi-lingual classrooms, Jabari believes firmly that there are many paths into the brain, be they tactile, visual or verbal — or a combination of all three. His project, to produce materials and an instructive DVD to support language acquisition and reading fluency in the classroom and at home, represents the kind of innovative reach that BPEF has enthusiastically supported over the years.

Tom Prince, Literacy Coach at BUSD and Berkeley Arts Magnet. Since the early 1990s, in Oakland and now Berkeley, Reading Recovery has been the chief inspiration for Tom’s work. This unique program focuses exclusively on intervention with struggling first-grade readers, starting from the positive premise of building up from what a student can do, rather than focusing immediately on what they can’t.

UC Berkeley’s Cal Corps Public Service Center. Cal Corps’ deep commitment to organizing student volunteers provides extensive summer and school-year tutoring support for developing K–8 readers at Berkeley public schools, city recreation centers, and other non-profit youth programs.  Its mission, to “promote leadership through service, and to foster social justice and civic engagement”, is powerfully reflected in BUILD — Berkeley United in Literacy Development.

The Berkeley Public Education Foundation works in every Berkeley public school as a catalyst for innovation and student success. Its program includes awarding teacher grants, as well as training and placing school volunteers.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...