When this Arkansas Sigma chapter member was a fourth and fifth grade teacher in the small, rural town of Des Arc, Arkansas, she noticed that not all the students were provided the same opportunity to develop a love for books and to enjoy reading time at home because of the lack of resources available to them. Knowing through research and from 20 years of teaching experience that children who had books in their homes did better academically than those who did not, she brought the idea to implement a Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) for the Prairie and Woodruff Counties to her Delta Kappa Gamma chapter in 2004. DPIL is a non-profit organization that promotes early literacy by gifting children age-appropriate books of high-quality free of charge each month from birth to age five regardless of the family’s income. These books are mailed to children in not only the United States, but all over the world.
Through her passion and desire to want every child to have the opportunity to establish a love for books as well as have family reading time, she hoped to impact every child in Prairie and Woodruff Counties with this long term gift to the community. Not only was she able to get books for every child in those two counties, but this amazing retired teacher was the driving force in getting almost every county in the State of Arkansas involved in DPIL. MaryAnne hopes that by her 75th birthday in October she will have all 75 counties participating in this program. She is well on the way to meeting that goal with 84% or 63 counties currently enrolled.
Additionally, she learned the Kindergarten readiness scores in Des Arc went from 50% being “not developed” to 0% being “not developed” in 2009 and remained at this percentage until 2015 when the scoring method used was changed. MaryAnne found that even though the method was different, the results remained the same.
As of October 2017, DPIL had distributed one million books to the state of Arkansas and 100 million internationally. MaryAnne continues to work with superintendents and community members all over the state of Arkansas to bring awareness of this marvelous program to their districts so that all children in the state can have their own personal library. What an awesome feat for one teacher from a small town to achieve!