Hannah Montgomery – 2011 National Spirit of Women Youth Winner
The Spirit of Women organization announced that Hannah Montgomery, the regional nominee of Memorial Hospital, has won the National Youth Award. She is the first national winner from the region. The regional awards were presented at the Women’s Expo in the spring.
Hannah has volunteered more than 150 hours at the Ronald McDonald Family Room® in South Bend in the past two years. Hannah is also a member and Treasurer-Elect of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Teen Board and was a driving force in its conception. The Ronald McDonald House Charities Teen Board was formed in an effort to teach high school students about RMHC, fundraising and what it means to sit on a charity board. When Hannah heard about the board, she immediately wanted to be a part of it.
Hannah recently participated in the Miss America Outstanding Teen Scholarship Pageant in Cass County and is the current Miss Cass/St. Joe County Outstanding Teen.
One of Hannah’s proudest achievements is her creation of the Dash to Read Program that encourages reading in elementary students. Results have shown an increase in student reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read, and an increase in students’ practicing on their own in order to be prepared for when their canine classmate arrives. Hannah believes that the national problem of illiteracy can be mitigated by creating stronger readers at a young age through programs like Dash to Read; such programs help students gain ongoing reading skills, better language and social skills while also building confidence. Dash to Read received an honorary letter of congratulations from Niles Mayor McCauslin.
The program reflects Hannah’s dedication and personal investment in her community. Each week, she and her Border Collie, Dash, visit local classrooms and libraries. While the students read aloud, Dash is a perfect audience; he is a non-threatening entity who does not judge them while they read. Dash is always a happy listener who doesn’t point out their mistakes, and the opportunity to interact with him acts as an incentive for them to want to read more.
Teachers have found the Dash to Read program a great inducement for students on many levels. The children want to read to Dash and are encouraged to keep reading with the Dash to Read rewards program. The more books the children read, the more rewards they receive, such as special play time with Dash, Achievement Awards and books donated in their honor to their school. Teachers also encourage good behavior as it is a requirement to work with Dash.
Hannah is academically proficient as well; she is a 4.0 Honor student at Niles High School, a member of Student Council, Key Club, women’s choir, Niles Soccer and she has received three Presidential Academic Achievement Awards. Hannah was named Michigan’s State Representative for the “Girls Know How” book series. She has helped organize food drives, coat drives, rings the bell for the Salvation Army and has been volunteering since she was in the first grade.
Hannah will be a contributing force in our community for many years to come. She plans to attend Michigan State University to obtain a teaching degree and wants to become a fourth grade teacher and inspire children to make a difference the way she was inspired by her teachers.
We are proud of Hannah to be the recipient of this prestigious award. At Memorial Hospital, we cannot think of anyone who is more deserving for her hard work and dedication to children in our community.
Jennifer Warfel Juszkiewicz