APH Awards Its Highest Honor to a Deserving Member of the Field

Dr. M. Cay Holbrook Awarded APH’s 2017 Wings of Freedom Award

Photo of Cay Holbrook holding her Wings of Freedom Award.
Cay Holbrook has been an important member of the APH family for over 20 years. Her accomplishments have strongly benefited the teachers, students, and families we proudly serve. Her professional credentials as a vision teacher in several states, as vision program director and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins, associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and professor at the University of British Columbia, make her uniquely qualified to guide projects and author policies that make us, and our field, stronger.
Other facets of Dr. Holbrook’s amazing career include her work with the Carter Center in China, her co-creation of the biennial Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference with Janie Blome (GITWL), and countless edited and authored textbooks, articles, and curriculums, including her groundbreaking work with Alan Koenig to create the Learning Media Assessment that continues to be used internationally.
Cay has been honored throughout her career by a grateful field. Recognitions include AER’s Warren Bledsoe and Alfred Allen Awards, CECDVI’s Distinguished Service Award, GITWL’s Alan J. Koenig Research in Literacy Award, the Holbrook-Humphries Literacy Award, JVIB’s Reviewer of the Year Award, and UALR’s Faculty Excellence Award in Public Service.
In 2005, APH proudly announced Dr. Holbrook as our first Executive in Residence. Thanks to a well-earned sabbatical, Cay was able to join APH from September through November of 2006, when she primarily assisted with department of Educational Product Research projects. Among her many areas of interest were developing a research matrix – matching research topic needs of APH with possible field solutions, providing forums with department staff to discuss research techniques, working on product development, and looking at "tried and true" products with new eyes…for expanded use. One very important and timely project that Cay undertook while in residence was the creation of the company’s Expert Panel process, as required by the Department of Education. A team of nationally-drawn experts continues to meet annually to rate new products on a variety of criteria, generating a report that is sent to the federal government. Another important project that Cay offered her expertise on was APH’s flagship literacy product known as Patterns. Cay became lead consultant on this landmark effort that became Building on Patterns. Cay continues to serve as an active participant in this ongoing work.
Cay’s favorite teacher was Anne Sullivan who once shared, “I cannot explain it, but when difficulties arise, I am not perplexed or doubtful. I know how to meet them.” Cay personifies her hero, for she never appears perplexed or doubtful but seems to instinctively know how to meet the challenging tasks that lie before her. For this, a grateful field says thank you!

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