Area Zonta Club honors two at awards luncheon

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Judith Farris received the Celebration Award; Jeanine Larson Dobbins received the Women of Achievement Award.

By CHRIS PAGANO

Southeast Missourian

A former opera singer and a literacy director were honored Friday at the third annual Zonta Women of Achievement luncheon at the Plaza Conference Center.

This year's Celebration Award went to Judith Farris, a music and theater instructor at Southeast Missouri State University. The Women of Achievement Award went to Jeanine Larson Dobbins, director of the Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program and the Reading Recovery site coordinator at Southeast Missouri State University.

A Cape Girardeau native, Farris is an alumna of Southeast Missouri State University who made a name for herself performing as an opera singer and as a Broadway vocal coach.

Two of her students, Andrew Tebo and Alix Reilly, gave solo performances and attributed their accomplishments to Farris.

"I didn't know much about Zonta before," Farris said in accepting the award. "They're so astounding. The organizations they support along with Zonta members who contribute to them should be the ones getting the award."

For almost a decade, Dobbins wrote grants to fund Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program. State appropriations of $4.3 million affcted more than 116,000 children from kindergarten to third grade. She coordinated the recent opening of the Reading Recovery University Training Center at the university. The center enables Missouri teachers to be trained in the Reading Recovery program, which helps first-graders who are having trouble reading and writing.

Dobbins said she cherishes her position and that it is an honor to work with her colleagues and superiors, who are literacy professionals dedicated to eradicating illiteracy.

"We are cheering for each other to be successful for children," she said.

Zonta International seeks to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy. The area Zonta Club sponsors several service projects, including literacy efforts, the Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence and the Safe House for Women.

The luncheon drew about 300 people.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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