The OCHO Project is thrilled to recognize and congratulate these dedicated kids who received the International Reading Association's Literacy and Service Recognition 2014 Award for participating in and expanding The OCHO Project.


Left to right: Shelby McGhee, Jillian Butler, Lisa Peart, Jaren Rinaldi, Josh Langley

Over the last six years Jillian Butler, Shelby McGee, Josh Langley, and Jaren Rinaldi of Northwest Elementary School in Hudson, Florida have shown exemplary leadership in engaging in and expanding a service learning project to support literacy at home and around the world.

OCHO project poster

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OCHO project poster

We are excited to announce these students, nominated by their school counselor Lisa Peart, are the 2014 winners of the Literacy and Service Recognition Award established by the Literacy and Social Responsibility Special Interest Group (L-SR SIG). This award is unusual in that recipients are students (K-16+) who have been nominated by teachers, librarians and other adults for exemplary community service related to the purposes of the L-SR SIG. These four students took part in The OCHO Project over time to organize the support of their entire school and reach out to children globally to support access to literacy and get books in the hands of kids.

This project began when the students were in kindergarten and they participated in the OCHO Project to provide books for summer reading to kids at their school who did not have funds to purchase materials at the school book fair. School Counselor, Lisa Peart noted “The students were so excited to have books of their own to take home and read.” On returning the following fall, Marilyn Perlyn of The OCHO Project suggested students implement the same project to reach out to children in Tanzania. Students organized the activity and, as Mrs.Peart noted, “they learned valuable lessons in trustworthiness, kindness, and responsibility.” Books were collected, a walk-a-thon was held and the service project grew. They presented their work to the student council and student body in a PowerPoint that featured children around the world with the donated books. Over the next six years these students organized sending books to India, Viet Nam, Papua New Guinea and most recently to Namibia.  Mrs. Peart points to success of the project evident in increased reading scores, in what students have learned about the lives of children around the world and, notably, in the development of compassion and kindness. She concludes that these four students “have learned many valuable lessons and at Northwest they are being educated in both their minds and hearts.”

Read the detailed essays of submission written by the students and the school counselor for this award to learn more about the inspiring work these four students have done in support of literacy and social responsibility. Also you can watch the winners in a YouTube video (shown below) talk about the project and/or read some testimonials about their project.

They will be recognized by award founders Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy as the 2014 recipients of the award at the annual meeting in New Orleans, Saturday, May 11, and will have time to discuss and present the project and their work in our program at the St. Louis convention of IRA in July 2015.  

Learn about previous winners as well and do consider nominating your students for their important service work in literacy and social responsibility; follow our website for application details.

The sole member of The Ocho Project, LLC is Stepp'n Up Shoes for Kids, Inc., a Florida not for profit corporation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.