Mary Anne Johnston recognized as Outstanding Volunteer by The Summit Foundation
FRISCO — Mary Anne Johnston has been named Outstanding Volunteer by The Summit Foundation as part of the organization’s philanthropy awards for 2019. Johnston, who has lived in Summit County for 21 years, has been recognized for her zealous drive to improve literacy and education in Summit County and abroad.
She is originally from the Atlanta area and came to Summit County in 1998. About 10 or 11 years ago, Johnston joined The Rotary Club of Summit County and has been putting her wealth of experience in the education field to work ever since.
Johnston is a lifelong educator, starting her career teaching Montessori preschool, moving on to become a reading teacher at the elementary level and then getting her Ph.D. and teaching at Metropolitan State University in Denver.
She later moved on to teach teachers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, then became director of the office of education at Yale before taking the same role at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Through all her experience teaching, Johnston understood the importance of basic literacy and starting it early in life. In her retirement, Johnston has worked zealously to improve literacy in the county. She is chair of Rotary’s literacy committee and grew it from four members to 22. She oversaw the expansion of the committee’s programs and recruited 45 volunteers, not just Rotarians.
She also started a grant program to fund schools’ and teachers’ literacy programs and has made an annual trip to Guatemala with the Rotary Club for the Guatemala Literacy Project, which has volunteers bring children in the country free books, computers and textbooks.
“I see myself as a facilitator who deeply cares about literacy, and I am glad we found so many people in the community who are really excited about reading and literacy,” Johnston said. “The Rotary has given me the opportunity to share that passion.”
She said she works so hard to spread literacy and passion for reading because of what reading does for the average person: takes them places and allows them to see things and understand the world in ways not possible without the power of the written word.
“Nothing can give greater pleasure for life,” Johnston said. “To me, being a reader means you open up our life to the world, and to be able to do that is so extraordinary.”
• Outstanding Philanthropist: Howard and Sue Carver
• Outstanding Board Member: Kim Dufty
• Outstanding Business: Omni Real Estate
• Outstanding Citizen: Dr. Walter G. Briney
• Outstanding Educator: Chris Hall
• Outstanding Professional in a Nonprofit: Noelle Sivon
• Outstanding Volunteer: Mary Anne Johnston
• Outstanding Youth: Summit High School Mountain Dreamers
• Outstanding Youth Mentor: Aaron Landau and EVO3
• Community Collaboration: Youth Empowerment Society
• Spirit of the Summit: Mark and Deb Spiers
Johnston added that it comes down to brass tacks, too. To get almost any job, you need to be able to read. To experience life and all it has to offer at its fullest, being able to read is critical.
“How can you function as a person in the world if you can’t read?” Johnston said. “Functionally, operationally, everyone needs to be able to read to be a good citizen, to be healthy, to be able to vote. To me, being able to read is the foundation of being a human. It’s just that critical.”
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