Kiwanis of Conway Arkansas Bookcase Project

Educational adviser keynotes Conway Bookcase Project banquet

Conway Institute of Music

Jamie Ward, who believes early educators should engage with the families of their students and that the well-being of adults who care for young children is essential, will deliver the keynote speech at the Conway Kiwanis Bookcase Project’s annual banquet on October 26, 2023.

The banquet will be held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Bob and Betty Courtway Middle School, 1200 Bob Courtway Drive, Conway. Supper and entertainment will be provided, the latter by the Fat Soul Band, a network of musicians in central Arkansas who specialize in sing-along pop, country and rock music.

Ward is the owner of Curricula Concepts, Inc. Conway, Arkansas, which has provided professional development and coaching to early educators and families of young children for more than 10 years. She describes herself as a fierce advocate for our youngest children and the early-care and education workforce.

Net proceeds of the banquet are used to fund the construction of 50 premium bookcases annually. Since the founding of the Conway Bookcase Project in 2005, 950 personalized bookcases and starter sets of books have been awarded annually to preschoolers enrolled in Head Start in Faulkner County.

According to an assessment conducted in Arkansas public schools in spring 2023, 32.2 percent of students in Grade 3 meet or exceed a benchmark for “readiness” in reading. This is down from 35.0 percent in the previous assessment one year earlier. Research reported in 2011 finds that one in six students who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time – four times the rate for proficient readers.

“The purpose of our literacy initiative is to reverse this trend and reduce the percentage of students who need additional support in reading,” said Richard S. Plotkin, chair of the Bookcase Project. “We are committed to working with families, educators and community organizations to enhance the potential of bookcase recipients at all levels of education and in their chosen profession. We owe it to these children.”

Individual tickets to the banquet are $25.00. A “Sponsor’s Table” of eight seats, for $250.00, includes benefits such as reserved seating and recognition via social media and at the banquet.

Tickets can be ordered by e-mailing Plotkin at

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