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7/1/2011 - Jackson, Miss.

America Reads – Mississippi (ARM) AmeriCorps members gathered recently at the Jackson Convention Complex to celebrate their year of service. ARM members were joined by program staff, representatives from partnering schools, universities, agency partners and a host of special guests. The Celebration included a Life After AmeriCorps Training session conducted by Sharonda Medina, Owner/Operator of Legacy, and an awards luncheon. The event ended with members taking the AmeriCorps Continuation Pledge led by Judy Stein, AmeriCorps Director with the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service.

Mississippi Representative Kelvin Buck, Chairman, House Universities and Colleges Committee, delivered the Keynote Address for the luncheon. Representative Buck's inspirational remarks included the importance of ARM members' commitment as tutors and the importance of education. Members were challenged to hold steadfast to their goals of becoming certified teachers.

ARM members were also encouraged to continue to serve by fellow AmeriCorps member and Member of the Year for the Mississippi State University region, Alisha Davis. Davis articulated the important role all adults play in educating children through the poem, "Whose Child Is This." Alisha is a first-year member at West Lowndes Elementary. Other Members of the Year included Latanya Jefferson, Alcorn State University region, McLaurin Elementary; Trina McClinton, Delta State University region, O'Bannon Elementary; Dola Frazier Greer, Jackson State University region, Raymond Elementary; Debra Clark, University of Southern Mississippi region, Seminary Elementary; and Mattie Fenner, University of Mississippi region, Green Hill Elementary.

ARM school, university and agency partners are key supporters of the program. Their attendance at this event is also an indication of the value and relationship of the partnerships.

ARM has 350 full-time AmeriCorps members who serve as reading tutors in 82 schools. ARM is made possible through a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service and operates regionally through a partnership with six of Mississippi's public universities.

ARM oversight at the state level is a joint effort through the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service and the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). The IHL Board of

Trustees, which governs public universities, has committed to helping ensure students are ready for college and teachers receive first-rate training at universities across the state. For more information on America Reads Mississippi, visit the organization's Web site at americareadsms.org.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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