Touchdown for literacy (get it?)


The Mirror

Shaun Alexander showed his skills as a joke teller Thursday morning to a large crowd at Northwest Church.

He should probably keep his day job.

Not that people didn’t laugh. It was more laughter mixed with groaning as the Seattle Seahawks running back harvested a few acres of corn while serving as master of ceremonies at the sixth annual Literacy Celebration Breakfast for the Federal Way Education Foundation.

The annual event is a rally for community members and leaders to raise money and put time in helping children and adults learn to read and write.

The initial tally of donations was more than $54,000 –– a record –– as of Thursday afternoon, according to organizers. It is the main fund-raiser for the organization. Education Foundation officials said more donations were coming in. Also, Alexander auctioned off one of his team jerseys and two footballs with his autograph. He also signed copies of “The Cat in The Hat is Back” and “Alexander the Great” by Jarrett Mentink, Todd Beamer High School’s boys basketball coach.

Alexander is a veteran of the event, having held the MC microphone for three years. More than 240 people attended Thursday, including Federal Way School Board members, Federal Way Mayor Dean McColgan, current and former Federal Way Public Schools superintendents Tom Murphy yand Tom Vander Ark, respectively, and students in schools that have benefitted from the literacy effort.

Aside from the fund-raising and testimonials given, the foundation announced it has joined with Communities in Schools (CIS), a national organization that works to help students succeed in getting an education.

Joining with CIS will give the foundation access to more resources and learning tools and be part of a national network, said Natalie Ellington of Dominion College in Des Moines.

Shaud’e Moore-Vann told the crowd about how the school district’s Building the Bridge summer program, which gets support from the Education Foundation. Now a freshman at Decatur High School, Moore-Vann didn’t pass the state assessment test by four points. She had the option of attending summer school and chose to go.

“My mom had influenced me” to attend, she said with a straight face. The crowd laughed and applauded the remark.

Moore-Vann said the summer program not only helped her but was a positive experience for her two younger brothers, ages 8 and 3. The older brother also went to summer school to improve his reading skills. Over the summer, they worked together and went to the library for books he could read. Moore-Vann said they talked about what he read and practiced with flash cards.

“I became the teacher at home,” she said.

Her brother is now teaching the youngest child vocabulary words and reading to him.

Alex Hernandez, a kindergarten teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School, brought one her students, Andrea Guzman, who entered her class almost two years ago not speaking any English. Today, as a first-grade student, she can read at almost the second grade level.

Murphy credited Vander Ark with starting the literacy movement in Federal Way and thanked the rest of the audience for donating.

Alexander auctioned the jersey and footballs off to the highest bidders. Tom Parsons, information technology director for Woodstone Credit Union, and Phil Spencer, a chiropractor, got into a bidding war for the jersey. Parsons came out on top with a $950 bid.

Spencer turned his sights onto one of the footballs, but was matched by Dini Duclos, chief executive officer of Multi-Service Center. Both ended up paying $400 for a ball.

Staff write Mike Halliday: 925-5565,

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