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The 2006 Fannie Stabenow Award

Susan Notes: This award is given by the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association for outstanding contribution to the council. The good news is that a committed and respected educator would use the occasion of receiving such an honor to speak out for all teachers--and students.

by Dr. Yvonne Siu-Runyan, Professor Emerita
The University of Northern Colorado

I am humbled to stand before you today as recipient of the 2006 Fannie Stabenow Award. I never imagined such an honor would be bestowed on me.

I want to thank Dr. Pat Hagerty for nominating me for this award, those who supported her nomination, and the Fannie Stabenow Committee.

I would also like to thank Peggy Isakson for believing in me. Peggy was the person who approached me to become the second editor of the Colorado Communicator.

In addition, I would like to thank the CCIRA Executive Committees throughout my 18 years as editor who appointed me to shepherd this publication, as well as believed in my abilities to participate in the many activities and projects of CCIRA.

Lastly, I would like to thank my husband, Dan, who has supported me and the many hours and week ends he was alone and had to fend for himself in order for me to fulfill my responsibilities to CCIRA.

When I think about the struggles educators have faced and continue to face it brings to mind several quotes:

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
—Thomas Jefferson

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
—Albert Einstein

They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.
—Benjamin Franklin

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

With these wise words in mind, I believe in the following:

1. Focus on the learners and learning, and the teaching will follow.

2. There is no such thing as a silver bullet or magic method best for all learners.

3. Methods used in any learning situation depend on the students, the learning environment, and a myriad of variables over which teachers have little control.

4. Classrooms are not assembly lines in factories, where the raw products given to make something meet a certain standard. That is, teachers have no control over their raw products—the students—with whom they must help learn.

5. Thus, an expert teacher creates a learning environment where students help one another and cherish the astonishing and amazing wide array and variability of student interests and talents in their classrooms. Expert teachers use these differences as tools of power, not deficits, and a way to help students learn about the value of diversity in a democratic society. It would indeed be a disturbing day for the well-being of our country if we were all the same.

We need to remember that what we do for each student and for our noble profession—teaching—in and outside our classrooms lasts for an eternity. May we each do our utmost to choose what is best for all!

Thank you, again.

— Dr. Yvonne Siu-Runyan
Acceptance Speech


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