Melanie Hornbeck, an outreach librarian at the Laramie County Library System in Cheyenne, is one of two winners of the 2022 Carol Mead Leaders in Literacy Award from the University of Wyoming Literacy Research Center and Clinic (LRCC) Outreach Advisory Board. Jennifer Hayward of Daniel, a Title 1 reading teacher at Pinedale Elementary School, is Melanie’s co-winner.
The two split a $4,000 award, with each receiving a $2,000 grant to continue their work supporting literacy in Wyoming.
For the last six years, Melanie has been making monthly visits to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms in Laramie County School District 1, often in low-income schools, to help teachers enhance the literacy skills of students. She meets students wherever they are, which also includes visits to summer school classrooms and the Laramie County Library System Bookmobile. These visits did not stop during the COVID-19 pandemic; they just switched to online-delivery storytimes when in-person contact was not possible.
During her visits, Melanie comes to the class with materials and lessons that make reading and exploring literature fun. She uses direct models, interactive play, songs, puppets and reader’s theaters in lessons that leave students wanting more. Her impact has been proven by an increase in student scores, retention and skills.
Hornbeck also encourages students to take their reading home with them, in addition to inviting them to go to their local libraries to explore even more. She shares calendars to showcase events and activities occurring at the libraries that will interest the students.
“Melanie’s openness and encouragement have single-handedly brought countless parents and their children into the library for the first time and keep them returning faithfully with gratitude,” her nominator says. “She has been a pillar of comfort and welcoming to families that otherwise would not, and had not, felt comfortable in the public library prior.”
The Carol Mead Leaders in Literacy Award is a way to recognize and honor Wyoming citizens, organizations, businesses or communities that have made substantial contributions that enhance the literacy development among the Wyoming community.
Formerly known as the First Lady’s Leaders in Literacy Award, the honor was established in 2016 by the LRCC Outreach Advisory Board to recognize the work of Wyoming’s former first lady, Carol Mead, to promote literacy education throughout the state. The award was renamed in 2019 to honor the legacy of the former first lady and her impact on the literacy and education of students in Wyoming.