If you are lucky enough to know Dr. Katherine Hough (rhymes with "tough"), then you probably know that she is smart, funny, and seems to know at least a little bit about practically everything. Katherine has been the CBAL Community Literacy Coordinator in Cranbrook since May 2009. Like many of us, Katherine came to literacy work on a winding path through years of education and community work.
Katherine is a practicing lawyer. Before being called to the bar, she studied Canadian History and Russian. She also has a Masters of Environmental Law and a Masters of Divinity (she is an ordained Anglican priest). Most recently, Katherine completed her Ph.D. in Criminal Law and Ethics! About 25 years ago, while working as Crown Counsel in Prince George, Katherine worked as a volunteer adult literacy tutor. She came full circle when she became the community literacy coordinator for Cranbrook.
One of the banner programs in Cranbrook is the Young Parents’ Education Program (YPEP). At YPEP parents of young children can study to complete their high school diploma while their children are looked after at a licensed childcare facility. One of the important parts of YPEP is Parents and Children Together (PACT). During PACT, parents spend time with their kids and develop their parenting skills.
Katherine feels YPEP makes a difference by providing a safe place to learn. She says one learner who began YPEP was shy, had little help and had difficult relationships. “She could have been asked to leave for not meeting the expectations of the program,” Katherine says. “She didn’t appear to be working hard, and she didn’t engage with others. But by the end of the program year, she was making eye contact, smiling, connecting, because she had found a safe place she could trust.” That learner returned in September and, as Katherine says, was “off to the races!”
Another impactful moment for Katherine is Cranbrook’s annual Creative Writing Project. CBAL works with local schools for the project. Teachers and school administrators select one piece of work for each grade to be recognised and celebrated at a Family Literacy Day (January 27th) event. “The pieces aren’t chosen because they are the best, but because they represent the student’s success, their milestone.” One Kindergarten picture was featured when the student drew a picture of her father, who had died. “It was the first time she had been able to acknowledge and label the fact that her daddy was gone and to start talking about it and healing.”
Katherine says the best parts about her job are working with dedicated program facilitators and staff, and the community partnerships she gets to be a part of every year. “There are so many people and groups committed to literacy – the process, planning and partnerships,” says Katherine. There is no question, however, that Katherine is a big part of the successful and valuable literacy work that happens in Cranbrook.
Community Literacy Coordinator - Windermere Valley