Katie Lehman Named Indiana Youth Institute’s 2022 D. Susan Wisely Youth Worker of the Year

Katie Lehman

By Ashley Haynes, Indiana Youth Institute—

INDIANAPOLIS, IN  – Katie Lehman, Ready Readers Supervisor at the Muncie Public Library, has been awarded the 2022 D. Susan Wisely Youth Worker of the Year Award by Indiana Youth Institute (IYI). Lehman has served as the Ready Readers Supervisor for Muncie Public Library (MPL) since 2016, when she developed the free, one-to-one literacy program.

“I am humbled to receive the IYI’s 2022 D. Susan Wisely Youth Worker of the Year Award,” said Lehman. “It is an absolute honor and privilege to help students not only build their literacy skills but build their confidence in themselves. I am truly grateful to all the parents and caregivers who entrust us with helping their child succeed. Thank you to all who have supported me throughout the years and the biggest thank you to my students. They show up ready to tackle challenges, do the “hard stuff”, and push themselves to learn. They are and always will be the reason I do what I do.”

Ready Readers is a weekly, play-based, one-to-one literacy program offered by the MPL. It is the first of its kind to be offered in a library setting. Ready Readers is free to all participants.

Developed by Lehman for the MPL in 2016, Ready Readers participants receive 30-minute of personalized reading and literacy tutoring each week.

“The Ready Readers program grew out of our concern over the declining literacy rates in our community,” said Akilah S. Nosakhere, Library Director at MPL. “We know that early literacy interventions work and it made sense for MPL to prioritize this important issue.”

Younger students focus on kindergarten readiness through developmentally appropriate play-based activities and games covering essential content and skills. Sessions for older children work to improve fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and overall reading skills. No matter the student’s age, every session is game/activity-based and individualized to the child’s need.

Sidney Barkdull, Ready Reader Specialist II for the Muncie Public Library, nominated Lehman for the award. Barkdull praised Lehman’s commitment to the community, ability to forge relationships, and her heart for Muncie’s youth and their families.

“Katie demonstrates every day what it means to be an advocate. She works hard for the kids who she serves in Ready Readers and goes above and beyond to help them succeed,” Barkdull said. “Each day she shows up and meets children where they are in their learning and personal journeys. Every child is welcome, no matter who they are or where they come from.”

“My passion for working with youth comes from the youth themselves. It takes strength to come to session each week knowing they will work on something that can be hard for them. Yet week after week they show up excited and ready to push forward. That spirit is inspiring and pushes me to continue building my own skills so I can be the best tutor for them,” said Lehman.

The D. Susan Wisely Youth Worker of the Year award honors one exceptional youth worker’s service and commitment to help improve the futures of Hoosier children. The award is named for the retired director of evaluation at Lilly Endowment Inc. who oversaw the development of numerous youth service-related programs such as the Lilly Fellows Program, which established many policies and organizations aimed at improving the quality of life for Hoosier children, including IYI.

“Katie Lehman is one of those exceptional youth workers who demonstrates the great passion and commitment to equity it takes to make sure all children succeed,” says Tami Silverman, president and CEO of Indiana Youth Institute. “This award not only recognizes Katie’s selfless work, but it also supports her continued growth and success. While it is important that we stop and honor those who dedicate their professional lives to helping the children of our state, the award itself is not enough. IYI has a responsibility to support Katie and all of our state’s youth workers throughout the year as they serve Indiana’s children.”

As part of the award, Lehman will receive a $2,500 professional education grant. Lehman received her award at the IYI KIDS COUNT® Conference on November 2, 2022. If you’d like to learn more about the Ready Readers program, contact Katie Lehman at 765-747-8229 or katie.lehman@munpl.org.

About the Indiana Youth Institute

For over three decades, Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) has supported the youth services field through innovative trainings’, critical data, and capacity-building resources, aiming every effort at increasing the well-being of all children. To learn more about IYI, visitwww.iyi.org, follow us onFacebook orTwitter.