Tag Archives: Eastern Shore Literacy Association

Young Authors’ Recipients Honored at Salisbury University

Student receiving award.

 James M. Bennett student Jenny Chen takes the top award at the annual Young Authors’ Contest hosted by the Eastern Shore Literacy Association. Chen placed first in 11th grade short story at the local and state level. Photo/Tracy Sahler



  • Chen garners top student writing award

Salisbury, Md. – The Eastern Shore Literacy Association (ESLA) filled the Holloway Hall Auditorium at Salisbury University Wednesday evening to announce the 2020 Young Authors’ Contest winners. Receiving entries encompassing public, private, and homeschooled students on the Shore’s lower three counties, the contest continues to become more and more competitive as the quality of writing is improving among entries.

Awards on a table.

 The annual Young Authors’ Contest hosted in the Holloway Hall Auditorium at Salisbury University was the an opportunity to shine the light on the talented student writers in Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. Photo/Tracy Sahler

“We are very proud of the students who entered this year’s contest,” Dr. Brian Cook, ESLA Young Authors’ Contest Co-Chair, stated in a release. He indicated the contest was comprised of students in grades 1-12 and two categories, poetry and short story, available in each of those grade levels. Those invited for the awards ceremony received a finalist postcard notifying them they were a top three place winner. “Anytime you can highlight a child who is working and challenging themselves to improve their writing is a huge win. Many of our students here tonight were first time winners and were beaming as they came up to receive their award; it was truly exciting.”

Prior to announcing awards winner students were inspired by the words of children’s author Claudia Friddell. Friddell touted the talents of the young writers and encouraged them to never give up on the writing process. A former elementary teacher, Friddell shared with students about her passion for discovering and sharing exciting, real-life stories. Friddell is the author of George Washington’s SpiesGoliath, Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire, and her upcoming book, Saving Lady Liberty. Friddell was available to socialize with students and discuss the writing prompt.

Local winners included the following students:

  • Grade 1, Poetry –  (1) Serena Jaoude, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 1, Short Story – (1) Luke Holder, The Salisbury School; (2) Ava Gibbs, The Salisbury School.
  • Grade 2, Poetry – (1) Madeleine Cook, Pocomoke Elementary; (2) La’nya Randall, Glen Avenue Elementary; (3) Isabella Rice, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 2, Short Story – (1) Montane Kilgoe, Glen Avenue Elementary; (2) Lily Grace Kirby, Ocean City Elementary; (3) Anna McCormack, Ocean City Elementary.
  • Grade 3, Poetry – (1) Callan Bergquist, North Salisbury Elementary; (2) Jackson Reddish, North Salisbury Elementary; (3) London Noelle Morton, North Salisbury Elementary.
  • Grade 3, Short Story – (1) Ellie Wells, Buckingham Elementary; (2) Yamose Alazy, Delmar Elementary; (3) Elias Baldridge, Ocean City Elementary.
  • Grade 4, Poetry – (1) Cooper Senter, North Salisbury Elementary; (2-tie) Kinzie Bunting, Worcester Preparatory; (2-tie) Ellie Phillips, Worcester Preparatory; (3-tie) Trezdon Santos, North Salisbury Elementary; (3-tie) Avery Wiltbank, North Salisbury Elementary.
  • Grade 4, Short Story – (1) Ryan Shipp, Worcester Preparatory; (2) Reed Luppens, North Salisbury Elementary; (3) Ben Rafinski, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 5, Poetry – (1) Peyton Davis, North Salisbury Elementary; (2) Lucy Gibson, Deal Island Elementary; (3) Karsyn Pete, North Salisbury Elementary.
  • Grade 5, Short Story – (1) Madison Wheeler, Pittsville Elementary; (2) Charlotte Malone, North Salisbury Elementary; (3-tie) Peter Jin, North Salisbury Elementary; (3-tie) Gavin Parks, Deal Island Elementary.
  • Grade 6, Poetry – (1) Adelaide Hope Dawkins, Berlin Intermediate; (2) Alex Catlin, Salisbury Middle; (3) Hannah Taylor, Salisbury Middle.
  • Grade 6, Short Story – (1) Charles Williams, Salisbury Middle; (2) Sydney Todorov, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Tyler Netting, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 7, Poetry – (1) Johanna Hallman, Stephen Decatur Middle; (2) Josephine Palmer, Stephen Decatur Middle; (3) Diva Shrestha, Salisbury Middle.
  • Grade 7, Short Story – (1) Landon Schul, Worcester Preparatory; (2) Ava Baer, Mardela Middle and High School; (3) Sierra Merritt, Pocomoke Middle School.
  • Grade 8, Poetry – (1) Mia Lucinda Lovitt, Stephen Decatur Middle; (2) Josh Blume, Stephen Decatur Middle; (3-tie) Tanner Ellis, Stephen Decatur Middle; (3-tie) Kaiden Bonbright, The Salisbury School.
  • Grade 8, Short Story – (1) Ella Vilmar, Bennett Middle; (2) Abbi Weeks, Stephen Decatur Middle; (3) Pim Noparat, Stephen Decatur Middle.
  • Grade 9, Poetry – (1) Emily Garlock, James M. Bennett High; (2) Riley Moyer, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Emily O’Brien, The Salisbury School.
  • Grade 9, Short Story – (1) Jessica Beck, Stephen Decatur High; (2) Emily Leon, The Salisbury School; (3) Rory Pugh, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 10, Poetry – (1) Maya Matava, James M. Bennett High; (2) Brooke Phillips, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Alexis Robertson, The Salisbury School.
  • Grade 10, Short Story – (1) Madeline Umsted, Mardela Middle & High; (2-tie) Jake Gillespie, Stephen Decatur High; (2-tie) Rosy Gao, James M. Bennett High; (3) Shannon Cottingham, Mardela Middle and High School.
  • Grade 11, Poetry – (1) Ki-Jhae Bull, Pocomoke High; (2) ; Hannah Perdue, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Waverly Choy, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 11, Short Story – (1) Jenny Chen, James M. Bennett High; (2) Sophia Smith, James M. Bennett High; (3) Lydia Woodley, Stephen Decatur High.
  • Grade 12, Poetry – (1) Marvin Mason, Pocomoke High; (2) Devin Wallace, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Chloe Westbrook, Pocomoke High.
  • Grade 12, Short Story – (1) Mulan Bell, James M. Bennett High.

The top winners in each grade level and category were forwarded onto the state level competition hosted by the State of Maryland Literacy Association. The Lower Shore had three students garner a first or second place ranking in the state Young Authors’ Contest. State level winners included:

  • Emily Garlock, James M. Bennett High, Grade 9 Poetry – 2nd place
  • Maya Matava, James M. Bennett High, Grade 10 Poetry – 2nd place
  • Jenny Chen, James M. Bennett High, Grade 11 Short Story – 1st place

“We continue to be well represented at the state level,” Lizanne Wallace, ESLA Young Authors’ Contest Co-Chair, stated in a release. “It is no longer uncommon to have Eastern Shore students place at the state. Our writers continue to get better and better every year. We are proud of their accomplishments as well their teacher’s dedication to improve writing instruction. The Young Authors’ Contest is reaping the benefits of strong teachers.”







Eastern Shore Literacy Association Names 2019-2020 Officers

The Eastern Shore Literacy Association (ESLA) has named its new officers for the 2019-2020 school year. A community organization with the focus on improving literacy in the lower three counties (Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester), ESLA disseminates best literacy practice to educators and parents, advocates for literacy issues through legislation with educational institutions, and make books available through numerous community outreach opportunities.


Serving as the incoming president is Dr. Andrea Vandiver, who is the Head of the Lower School at The Salisbury School and previously served as an elementary school teacher. Vandiver has served ESLA as vice-presidents and co-chair of the Young Authors’ Contest before elevating to the organization’s top position. She has a passion for children’s books of all levels and is passionate about students developing a lifelong love or reading.



Coming into the role of vice president is Deb Maupin, who is a third grade teacher at The Salisbury School. Maupin is an advocate for early literacy supporting many of ESLA’s outreach opportunities of placing books in the hands of children. At the school level, she supports global literacy initiatives and global competencies related to literacy.




Moving into the role of secretary is Lauren Tanis, a sixth grade language arts teacher at Somerset Intermediate School. Tanis has served as a judge in the annual Young Authors’ Contest. At SIS and her previous school Accawmacke Elementary (VA), she has been involved in many literacy initiatives including One Book, One School.



Continuing in his role of treasurer is Otto Jester, an elementary literacy professional development coach for Wicomico County Public Schools. He has previously served ESLA as the President-Elect, President, and Past President. He is an advocate for early literacy.




Transitioning into the role of membership director and corresponding secretary is Dr. Brian Cook, a sixth grade language arts teacher and department chair at Pocomoke Middle School. He is an integral part of his school’s literacy initiatives and active in supporting diverse literature through ProjectLit. He also serves ESLA as the co-chair of the Young Authors’ Contest.





ESLA continues supporting Habitat for Humanity

Salisbury, MD — The Eastern Shore Literacy Association (ESLA) continues to support Habitat for Humanity fo Wicomico County. Today, ESLA members presented a bookshelf with books for a new Habitat home. Beginning literacy at a young age is crucial in a child’s development, and ESLA hopes to support those new Habitat homes with young children.

ESLA supports initiatives in Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties.


ESLA nominated as Light of Literacy Luminary

Salisbury, MD — The Eastern Shore Literacy Association was nominated for a Light of Literacy Award.  The annual awards celebration, hosted by the Friends of the Wicomico County Public Libraries, recognizes those “Luminaries” whose actions demonstrate a deep understanding of the transformational power of literacy in the lives of those in our community. This awards ceremony brings together leaders from around the area to recognize those who are luminaries in our community, lighting the way for lighting the way for others by their example.

“As president of the Eastern Shore Literacy Association, I am humbled to have our organization nominated for this award,” Shannon Vaughan, a first grade teacher at Chipman Elementary, stated. “Our organization pushes to share the message literacy matters to people in our local communities and consistently is hoping to make a difference in the lives of children in our area.”

The organization award of the Light of Literacy Awards Breakfast is presented to a local business or organization in recognition of that company’s efforts to improve the literacy of our community. Examples include support of literacy focused programs or initiatives (reading, computer, financial, health or economic literacies), providing time for employees to engage the community in support of these literacies, or providing financial support for organizations in our community who make literacies more accessible.

Furthermore, ESLA Past President Lizanne Wallace, librarian at The Salisbury School, was also nominated in the educator category.

“What an honor to be nominated,” Wallace said after learning of her nomination. “We are blessed to be in a community which supports literacy and our children. I am truly blessed to be able to put books into the hands of children and share with them my passion of reading.”

The Light of Literacy Awards Breakfast is slated for Thursday, April 25 from 8-10 am at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. Tickets for the event can be purchased online for $20.


Young Authors’ Contest Finalists Announced

Salisbury, Md. – The Eastern Shore Literacy Association announced the finalist of its annual Young Authors’ Contest at it membership meeting tonight at The Salisbury School. Finalists are individuals who have finished in the top three in their respective category, poetry or short story, and grade level. Each finalist in grades 2-12 submitted an original writing artifact that was judged using a blind scoring method.

Finalist postcards, shown above, will now be sent to each finalist’s teacher, who will in return distributed the postcard to their respective finalist.

This year’s contest included entries from 16 schools, public, private, and homeschools. The Literacy Association personnel praised the amount of talented writers.

Finalists and their families, teachers, school administrators, and central officer personnel are now invited to take part in the Young Authors’ Awards Reception at Salisbury University in the Holloway Hall Auditorium, located on the first floor, on March 5, 2019 at 6:30 pm.

“We hope to continue the tradition we started last year of building anticipation in each of our finalist and get everyone here to Salisbury University to celebrate student writing. We feel last year’s turnout was topnotch, and we want to continue making this evening the Grammy’s of writing for our students,” Young Authors’ Contest co-chair Lizanne Wallace explained. “This is the night where we place student authors on a pedestal for their exemplary writing ability.”

The winning work of each student will be featured in the contest’s anthology and one will be given to each finalist. Electronic versions of the anthology will be available as well.

Individuals earning finalist status are listed alphabetically by last name in each grade and category. The order shown below does not reflect the placement where student authors finished in the contest.

Grade 2, Poetry – Trevor Langton, Glen Avenue Elementary; Bre’ara Thompson, Glen Avenue Elementary; Kayleigh Webster, Glen Avenue Elementary.

Grade 2, Short Story – Elias Baldridge, Ocean City Elementary; Kenley Hallett, Ocean City Elementary; Brynlee Waters, Ocean City Elementary.

Grade 3, Poetry – Cecilia Diehlmann, Ocean City Elementary; Ellie Phillips, Worcester Prep; Josiah Sessoms, Pocomoke Elementary.

Grade 3, Short Story – Harper Hertrich, Worcster Prep; Macaulley Jimmerson, North Salisbury Elementary; Ryan Shipp, Worcester Prep.

Grade 4, Poetry – Gabriella Chloe Damouni, Worcester Prep; Peyton Davis, North Salisbury Elementary; Henry Holt, Worcester Prep.

Grade 4, Short Story – Miles Cox, Northwestern Elementary; Peter Jin, North Salisbury Elementary; Carley Malone, North Salisbury Elementary.

Grade 5, Poetry – Aidan Gray, Deal Island Elementary; Kamryn Noble, Deal Island Elementary; Brody Webster, Deal Island Elementary.

Grade 5, Short Story – Jaren Hudson, Snow Hill Middle; Caitlin Shimko, Worcester Prep; Emily Whitelock, Deal Island Elementary.

Grade 6, Poetry – Megan Mitchell, Bennett Middle; Diva Shrestha, Salisbury Middle; Sydney Tingle, Worcester Prep.

Grade 6, Short Story – Ava Baer, Mardela Middle & High; Megan Mitchell, Bennett Middle; Trezure Trader, Salisbury Middle.

Grade 7, Poetry – Samantha Lambertson, Pocomoke Middle; Pim Noparat, Stephen Decatur Middle; Mariah Robertson, The Salisbury School.

Grade 7, Short Story – Aiden Clayton, Pocomoke Middle; Simran Jain, Stephen Decatur Middle; Zarriah S. Tobias, Stephen Decatur Middle.

Grade 8, Poetry – Leigha Early, The Salisbury School; Jack Greenwood, Stephen Decatur Middle; Ivorie Helmbright, Stephen Decatur Middle.

Grade 8, Short Story – Breanne Ferguson, Stephen Decatur Middle; Emily Leon, The Salisbury School; Isabella Scheeler, Pocomoke Middle.

Grade 9, Poetry – K. Cliff Collins, Pocomoke High; Morgan Johnson, The Salisbury School; Alexis Robertson, The Salisbury School.

Grade 9, Short Story – Rosy Gao, James M. Bennett High; Jenna Smith James M. Bennett High; Madeline Umsted, Mardela Middle & High.

Grade 10, Poetry – Briden Edney, James M. Bennett High; Hannah Perdue, Worcester Prep; Jonas Rush, Homeschooled.

Grade 10, Short Story – Lanie Gladding, Pocomoke High; Simon Lewis, James M. Bennett High; Sophia Smith, James M. Bennett High.

Grade 11, Poetry – Hanna Lehner, Stephen Decatur High; Sophia Peters, James M. Bennett High; Madison Synowiec, James M. Bennett High.

*Grade 11, Short Story – Daniel Cruz, James M. Bennett High; Ted Hirsch, James M. Bennett High.

Grade 12, Poetry – Gracie Boyce, Pocomoke High; Quinn Onley, Pocomoke High; Victoria Payne, Pocomoke High.

*Grade 12, Short Story – Zoe Michelle Bradshaw, Mardela Middle & High; Jake Rider, Stephen Decatur High.

*Indicates category only has two finalists.

About Eastern Shore Literacy Association

Eastern Shore Literacy Association is a nonprofit organization with the mission to improve the level of literacy in the lower three counties (Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester) on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  It promotes quality literacy instruction by: supporting the mission of the State of Maryland Literacy Association and International Literacy Association, disseminating best literacy practices to educators and parents, advocating for literacy issues through legislation and collaborating with educational institutions, professional organizations and businesses.

The group is active in the Lower Eastern Shore communities supporting literacy initiatives and individuals who have sparked a passion for reading. The group is made up primarily of K-12 educators (both current and retired) from public and private schools across Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore as well as individuals active in the higher education community

Fall Membership Dinner Announced

Salisbury, MD — The Eastern Shore Literacy Association is hosting its fall membership dinner on October 4, 2018 at The Fountains Wedding & Conference Center, 1800 Sweet Bay Drive, Salisbury, Maryland. The annual event will host speaker Dr. Virginia Berninger as she presents “Handwriting – What’s the Big Deal?”

Free to members, the event will kick off with a social hour at 5:30 and followed by dinner at 6:00. Non-members can pay $20 or pay the $30 membership to become a member at the event.

To RSVP email Literacy Association President Shannon Vaughan at svaughan@wcboe.org.