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December 3, 2010

Party fit for a king

Becky King retires from CAPE Literacy Initiative

NEW ALBANY — She thought she was being led to a meeting and had a presentation ready to go, but Becky King, director of the Community Alliance to Promote Education grant, had no idea what she was getting into.

Her friends surprised her with a retirement party.

“I’ve seen so many of these people in the last two weeks, and none of them have let on to this at all,” King said.

King is leaving the CAPE Literacy Initiative after working on it for five years. The program’s focus was to work with children and families to stress the importance of reading early in childhood, and forming habits to continue.

The program was funded through a Lilly Grant and works with children from low-income households, Title 1 schools and the parents of those children through workshops and by providing books for them.

CAPE also provides packets to parents of newborn children, encouraging them to read to their new baby and begin stressing the importance of reading.

Though the grant for the program has expired, King’s colleagues said she worked to make sure the benefits from CAPE would continue after she left with the Imagination Library program in Floyd County.

The NA-FC Education Foundation will begin to pick up some of the operations of the Imagination Library for Floyd County, which gives one book a month to children younger than 5 years old in Floyd County.

Gloria Murray helped write the grant, and is the dean of education at IU Southeast. She said CAPE would not have been as successful without King’s expertise.

“We had a framework, and we needed someone to come in, take that and make something happen,” Murray said.

Murray said King grew up around the S. Ellen Jones neighborhood, but has worked with several agencies to promote literacy, including Louisville’s National Center for Family Literacy.

Even though she worked away from her hometown, Murray said she’s always wanted to do something for her community.

“What she talks about often is coming back home and giving back to her community,” Murray said. “This has really been a calling for her to give back to her hometown.”

Teresa Perkins, a retired superintendent of the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation, said she and the people involved in the CAPE grant from the beginning wanted to hire King immediately.

“I just knew when the interview was over, Becky was absolutely the right person,” Perkins said. “We looked around the interview table, and Becky’s heart and wish to help her community came across so strong, we knew she would put all she had into it, and she has.”

King said as big of a task as she had with coordinating local organizations and getting funding for the program, she couldn’t recall any major setbacks.

“This community is so generous with their time, and there are so many people here who are committed to our children,” King said. “I really can’t remember any challenges that weren’t insurmountable.”

Though she’ll still be putting in a few hours with the programs she worked on and enjoying her retirement, she said she’s honored to have worked on CAPE.

“I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to work in my own hometown,” King said, “and end my career where I started. It’s sort of full-circle.”

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