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Home News Prince Albert Literacy Network honours late Prince Albert teacher and her family with storysack room

Prince Albert Literacy Network honours late Prince Albert teacher and her family with storysack room

Prince Albert Literacy Network honours late Prince Albert teacher and her family with storysack room
Gord Barnett stands next to the plaque honouring his late wife Duwayne outside the newly named Duwayne Barnett Memorial Storysack Room. -- Submitted photo.

For more than 30 years, teacher Duwayne Barnett passed on her love of reading to Grade 1 classes in the Prince Albert area.

Now, she’s been honoured for those efforts, as well as her family’s efforts, by the Prince Albert Literacy Network, who renamed their story sack room as the Duwayne Barnett Memorial Storysack Room on Aug. 24.

“It was a great honour for us as the Prince Albert Literacy Network to be able to name our story sack room in Duwayne’s name,” Literacy Network vice-chair Sandra Williams said. “We believe we have the largest story sack collection in the province…. We’re very proud of it, and certainly proud to attach a name like Duwayne Barnett.”

Barnett was known for her passion for literacy, and for making reading engaging and interesting for her students. Williams said that was a major reason for renaming the room in her honour, but they also wanted to honour the efforts of the family, which has supported the Literacy Network with donations for the last 19 years.

Gord Barnett, Duwayne’s husband, said the honour was a welcome surprise.

“It actually came right out of the blue,” Gord said. “We had no idea. We had just been contributing, and we knew they were doing great work and had been expanding over the years. We felt honoured that they’d decided to do something like this, especially because that room represents what Duwayne was all about: finding creative ways to make reading interesting for children.”

“She had an extreme passion for literacy,” Williams added. “She was primarily a Grade 1 teacher, and one of the roles of Grade 1 teachers is to teach children to read and to instill a passion for literacy. Duwayne did that in spades.”

When she passed away in 2002, Duwayne’s family asked for donations to the Literacy Network in lieu of flowers. Gord said they were impressed with what the Literacy Network was doing and thought supporting it was a good way to honour Duwayne’s legacy.

“It was still kind of in its infancy back then, but we liked what they were doing,” Gord said. “It would be September 2003 that we gave them the money that had been raised from the donations to the memorial.”

The Literacy Network used the money to buy and donate ‘Franklin the Turtle’ books by popular children’s author Paulette Bourgeois to various schools around Prince Albert. They also brought Bourgeois to Prince Albert to meet with students.

The family started the tradition of supporting the Literacy Network by matching the original donation every year, and they’ve kept it going for the last 19 years.

Gord said they’re happy to support an organization working to get more Prince Albert kids into reading.

“That is the real foundation to education, to read,” Gord said. “Also on the non-school side, when you think why people read, they read to escape or take journeys.

“Everybody has a favourite story or character or topic. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, it’s a way to relax, not just learn. As my kids used to say, it’s like taking a trip, just with a book.”

The Prince Albert Literacy Network has more than 70 story sacks containing various books built around a particular topic or theme. The network loans them out to schools, daycares, or parents free of charge.

Anyone looking for more information about borrowing a story sack can call 306-922-6736, or visit www.princealbertliteracy.ca.

The Prince Albert Literacy Network office is closed for the summer but will reopen for regular hours on Sept. 6.