Welcome to a first-time feature at NewAlbanyBooks – The (Inn)Ovation Award. It takes creativity and persistence to earn this plaudit, and today’s honoree is Paul Hankins.
Paul is an educator at Silver Creek High School, teaching 11th-grade and AP English. And while he is a frequent visitor to the store (and friend of this blog), today I want to recognize Paul’s “virtual” contribution to the enrichment of not only his SCHS pupils, but of students, writers, and education colleagues around the country and the world.
Any teacher of reading and writing has an obligation to provide good reading material for his charges. The better ones are always looking for new and exciting books that will reach the students “where they live” and that will instill a lasting appreciation for books.
Paul, in his professional capacity, is a voracious reader and a prolific reviewer. It’s obvious that he considers his job to be more than a 40-hour paycheck. I’ve known him to practically consume a book in a day, which is no small feat when you have a wife and children to care for, as he does.
One of Paul’s “outside” ventures is his participation in a reading program called The Centurions of 2011, which you can find on Facebook if you search. In 2010, members pledged to read 100 books during the year. Quite a few of them actually accomplished that goal. This year, Paul and the group have pledged to finish 111 books and to share their progress with the Facebook group on a monthly basis.
While the typical young adult book (novels, mostly) is a shorter read than most adult books, that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment. A good number of the readers, Paul included, do not limit their reading to professional dictates, reading across genres and age-groups.
As impressive as that is, it is not enough to earn our first (Inn)Ovation ribbon. No, Paul has created a hugely impressive online community called Reading and Writing in Kentuckiana, which is “Now Serving the Whole Country” after beginning as a local project within Paul’s classroom.
The shorthand appellation for the community is RAWInK, and it’s run primarily through the .ning engine, an online tool that provides tightly controlled interactivity. Paul told me he chose it, in part, because it was important to give students free rein to build and design the content themselves. Equally important was the administrative ability to keep others out. Accordingly, to join RAWInk, you must apply and be approved by the network administrators.
Over the course of about 18 months, the site has grown from a one-school workshop to an international clearinghouse for secondary school teachers and students – and the authors who write for them.
Some of the biggest names in YA literature are affiliated with the site and provide content. The student administrators keep the site populated with videos, audios, reviews, blog postings, lists, and much more. Periodically an author will make a live, interactive appearance on the site, either for teachers or students – and sometimes both.
We at the store are proud to recognize Paul Hankins, prime creator of RAWInk, the online reading and writing Web network, with today’s (Inn)Ovation ribbon. (And yes, Paul, you may download this cherished graphic image to display as you wish.)