On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, Reading Against the Odds students, and Literacy Chicago staff and friends staged an event to celebrate Jaye Jones, who co-founded Reading Against The Odds five years ago. Jaye---who was affectionately referred to as Dr. Jaye all afternoon because she recently completed of her PhD in Social Work---is scheduled to leave Literacy Chicago and move to New York where she will be the Director of the Adult Learning Center at Lehman College.
In a classroom decorated in a purple and gold motif, balloons, Kente cloth, and reproductions of the 15 books the group has read since 2007, students and instructors from over the years came to express their heartfelt gratitude for Dr. Jaye’s professionalism and compassion, and for championing the potential for life-changing literacy. June Porter was a strict Mistress of Ceremonies who---when people got emotional and broke down in tears---reminded everyone that this was supposed to be a happy occasion! Jaye was presented with a binder of student letters and poems---written especially for her---which she read aloud from during the nearly two-hour program.
One student did his impersonation of Jaye standing before a classroom of students, challenging them to read novels. Another student performed a freestyle rhyme; and another student sang a gospel tribute with handclap and background singing assistance from the audience. Well-wishers came forward with thoughtfully selected gifts and cards, thanking Dr. Jaye for creating a safe environment for them to read and discuss books and ideas. They recalled their visits to museums and attendance at plays---experiences some had for the first time in their lives as Reading Against the Odds students.
Andrea Kelton presented Jaye with a copy of Maya Angelou’s book Phenomenal Woman as a gift from her class; and Leslie Reese read the poem aloud. Office manager Marilyn Murchison---determined not to shed a tear---burst on the scene to give Jaye a token of her appreciation. Before everyone enjoyed hot pizza and fresh toss salads, softs drinks, water, and a delicious vanilla cake with buttercream icing, Literacy Chicago Director Carolyn Day presented Jaye with a binder cover and mother-of-pearl inlaid pen and business card holder.
Reading Against the Odds students had a number of questions they wanted to ask Jaye about her education and her future. Please return to this site soon, to find out what she had to say!