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Ruth Hayden Memorial Family Literacy Practitioner Award

The Centre for Family Literacy established the Ruth Hayden Family Literacy Practitioner Award to recognize accomplished individual practitioners and the family literacy field as a whole.

The late Dr. Ruth Hayden was an influential leader in the areas of emergent and family literacy in Alberta. Ruth worked tirelessly to advance the field of family literacy in Alberta and beyond.

Dr. Ruth, as those in the field knew her, spent many hours researching, developing and evaluating family literacy programs. She developed numerous training manuals for the Centre for Family Literacy and co-authored many resources used in the family literacy field and in other disciplines as well. Dr. Hayden was instrumental in building community capacity across the province.

Dr. Hayden spent a great deal of time training front-line practitioners across the province, as well as mentoring and coaching policy-makers and funders. She shared her deep knowledge and helped others build the principles of family literacy into their everyday practice. She also instilled the importance of working with the whole family in her dealings with practitioners, funders and community members. She believed that parents, given the right support and strategies, could be more confident in their role as their child's first teacher.

Dr. Hayden further believed that family literacy is as much about adult literacy and learning as it is about early and emergent literacy. She saw family literacy as an opportunity to re-engage parents in their own learning environments, where they see themselves as competent learners who can better their own lives, that of their families and their communities.

Award Description

The Ruth Hayden Memorial Family Literacy Practitioner Award will be presented to an individual who has excelled in the field of family literacy, maintained a high quality of service to participants in their programs and the community, and shown a commitment to their own learning.


To be eligible, the nominee must be at least 18 years of age, be a resident of Alberta, consent to their nomination and not have been a previous recipient of the award. The nominee must have at least two years experience working with families in addressing the literacy needs of the family.

Congratulations to our Annual Award Winners!

  • 2021: Marilyn Calkins:

    We are delighted to announce Marilyn Calkins as the winner of the annual Ruth Hayden Family Literacy Practitioner Award for 2021. Marilyn is the Literacy Coordinator at the Connect Society where she works with adults, children and families who are deaf and hard of hearing.

    Marilyn believes in the importance of families learning together and knows how to support and empower parents as their children’s first and best teachers. While she provides programming for adults and children, both separately and together, the constant connection is family. She understands the uniqueness of family literacy as a holistic approach to literacy and language development.

    Marilyn has an innovative and responsive style to program development. Never has this been more evident than during COVID-19. While many organizations were closing doors and limiting programs, Marilyn was creating programs that met both the restrictions of COVID-19 and the needs of her families. With libraries closed, she knew that many of her families were not able to access books, so she created a book lending program where books were delivered to families’ doorsteps.

    The online Cooking Program she developed allowed families to explore budgeting, online grocery shopping or grocery delivery, following recipes using their numeracy skills, and social time with other participants. Marilyn took this program one step further and provided each family with a gift card to ensure they had the resources to purchase the ingredients they needed for the program.

    This award was created to honour the memory of Dr. Ruth Hayden and to recognize individuals who show the same passion for family literacy. Marilyn embodies the true spirit of the award as her passion and commitment to family literacy practices, awareness, and advocacy are second to none.

  • 2020: Adine Shuchuk
  • 2019: Kimberly Cairns
  • 2018: Monique Sedlar
  • 2017: Sue Stegmeier
  • 2016: Wendy Peverett
  • 2015: Donna Arnold
  • 2014: Lil Radley (first annual award winner)

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