Today’s guest blog post is from Ann Shaw, Director of Philanthropy for Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women. Ann has held this volunteer role for the past six years. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas and her Master’s in Education from the University of New Orleans. Ann taught for over 25 years as an early childhood teacher and is passionate about literacy.
In 1987, the U.S. Congress designated March as Women’s History Month to ensure that the history of American women would be recognized and celebrated in schools, work places and communities throughout the country.
Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women was founded in 1867 by 12 students at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois who were the pioneers of the women’s fraternal movement. While our country was rebuilding after the Civil War, few women attended college. The women of Pi Beta Phi were visionaries of their time not only because they founded the Fraternity and patterned it after the men’s fraternal organizations of that time, but also because they were philanthropically minded and wished to better society.
Pi Beta Phi members continued their philanthropic interests by creating a school in 1912 in the remote Appalachian Mountain hamlet of Gatlinburg, Tennessee to provide formal education. In November 2012, Pi Beta Phi members celebrated 100 years of literacy service in Gatlinburg. From their original mission to the continuing legacy of Pi Beta Phi Elementary School and the Arrowmont® School of Arts and Crafts, Pi Beta Phis are proud of their commitment to literacy not only in Gatlinburg but across the United States and Canada.
In the next 100 years, Pi Phi’s Read. Lead. Achieve.® literacy platform will continue to provide direction for Pi Phi’s mission “to lead the way to a more literate society” through its partnership with First Book, Champions are Readers program, Arrow in the Arctic, Fraternity Day of Service and local initiatives.
Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book, is a visionary too, as she had the dream to put books into the hands of undeserved children through the inception of First Book. Both organizations work to end illiteracy and realize the importance of reading and how it is a predictor of success in school and life.
Both organizations work to end illiteracy and realize the importance of reading and how it is a predictor of success in school and life.
Pi Phi strives to lead the way to a more literate society and has supported First Book’s mission financially and through the volunteer efforts of our members. First Book and Pi Beta Phi are making a difference in the lives of children through their philanthropic efforts to create rich literacy environments, improve interest in reading and encourage children to be readers.
While we celebrate the accomplishments of women during National Women’s History Month, let us remember not only the women who have made significant accomplishments to better society but those women who read to their children, surround their children with books and encourage their children to love reading.
Pi Phi recently made a special edition of the title, Remember the Ladies: 100 Great American Women available to First Book’s schools and programs. If you work with kids from low-income families, sign your program or classroom up with First Book.