Rena Baker

Given statewide literacy award

About 25 years ago, Rena Baker was raising three children in Vienna and looking for a diversion a few mornings a week. She came across a newspaper ad for volunteer literacy tutors for adults, which led to her long connection with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

Baker was honored recently with the Jeannie P. Baliles Award by the Virginia Literacy Foundation and the Virginia Department of Education. The statewide award recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to literacy in the state.

Baker's first assignments included tutoring an inmate at the Fairfax County jail and working on spelling skills with other individuals. She was interested in putting her Spanish skills to use, so with fellow volunteer Norma Adams, Baker helped start the council's English as a Second Language Program in the mid-1970s.

"The students were all very eager to learn, and there was a big need there," Baker said. "I got satisfaction in giving them a start." There are now 140 people on the waiting list for ESL tutoring, said Baker, who eventually became a staff member at the council. She retired last year after 15 years as a program coordinator.

But don't think Baker, who is in her sixties, has stopped teaching people how to read. She currently works with a Kurdish woman who hopes to become a citizen. Baker keeps their biweekly meetings fun by breaking up the lessons with trips to the grocery store or the subway, so her student can use her new language skills in a real environment.

"She is making good progress, and I think it is exciting to see her applying what she learns to her life," Baker said.

Baker's grandparents came to the United States from Italy earlier this century, not knowing a word of English, so she feels driven to help others master the language. Plus, she finds it interesting to learn about other cultures. This is a common feeling among tutors.

"They get as much out of the relationships as the students do," Baker said. "A real bond often develops."

Will Booher

Attended leadership forum

Will Booher, of Great Falls, attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law this month in Washington. Booher was one of 350 students selected for the program, which included visits to local courthouses and law schools as well as participation in a court case simulation. Will is a student at Georgetown Preparatory School.

Denise E. Bruner

Named head of physicians group

Denise E. Bruner, of McLean, has been named president of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, a national medical society of physicians and allied health personnel who offer medical weight loss programs in the treatment of overweight, obesity and associated conditions. Bruner received her doctor of medicine degree from Howard University and practices in Arlington.

Susan Shaver Kehoe and Rich Eggleton

Named top television producers

Susan Shaver Kehoe, of Clifton, general manager at GMU-TV (George Mason University), and Rich Eggleton, of Alexandria, senior telecourse producer at GMU-TV, have been selected as two of the top 100 producers in the nation by AV Video Multimedia Producer magazine.

This is the second year that Kehoe has received this honor.

John Apruzese

Elected physics fellow

John Apruzese, of Springfield, has been elected a fellow of the American Physical Society. Apruzese is a research physicist in the Naval Research Laboratory's plasma physics division.

Albert Engelken

Inducted into transit hall of fame

Albert Engelken, of Alexandria, was inducted into the American Public Transit Association's Hall of Fame last month. The award is given to transit professionals who show leadership, knowledge and devotion to public transportation. Engelken worked for APTA for 26 years. He was the editor of the industry's weekly newspaper, Passenger Transport, and directed many of the industry's communications strategies. He retired in December 1997.

Steven P. Aldrich

Won Distinguished Young Alumnus Award

Steven P. Aldrich, of Alexandria, has been awarded the University of North Carolina's Distinguished Young Alumnus Award. The annual award is presented to the graduate whose professional achievements have brought honor to the university. Aldrich is president and founder of the Alexandria-based company QuickenInsurance, an online insurance marketplace and a subsidiary of Intuit Inc. Aldrich graduated in 1991 from the university in Chapel Hill.

Kpoene Kofi-Bruce

Won writing award

Kpoene Kofi-Bruce, of Alexandria, received the Paul Ward Prize in Writing from the English and Creative Writing departments of Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. Kofi-Bruce is a 1998 graduate of West Potomac High School.

Edith Hebblethwaite

Won gold medal at senior games

Edith Hebblethwaite, of Arlington, won a gold medal at the 1999 National Senior Games--The Senior Olympics in Orlando last month. Hebblethwaite took the gold in the 5-kilometer cycling competition for women ages 85 to 89. About 12,000 athletes competed in 18 sports at the seventh biennial event.

Organizations

West Springfield High School was named the "Cool School of the Week" on Nov. 15 by Education World, an educational resource and search engine on the Internet. Each week, Education World selects cool schools based on World Wide Web sites that best illustrate visual appeal, creativity, originality, community involvement, use of technology and other categories. The school's Web address is www.wshs.fcps.k12.va.us.

Inova Fairfax Hospital has been selected by National Research Corp. for a Consumer Choice Award for heart care service. The hospital is one of 124 nationwide to receive the honor. Winners are selected based on results from the 1999 NRC Healthcare Market Guide study, which contains consumer responses from 170,000 households in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

The architecture and interior architecture firm David, Carter, Scott, in McLean, was a two-time winner at the 13th annual National Association of Industrial and Office Properties Awards last month in McLean. David, Scott, Carter was awarded two Best Building categories for Speculative High Rise and Build-to-Suit under 150,000 square feet.

CAPTION: Longtime literacy tutor Rena Baker, seated, gets a hug from her friend Jackie Elass, who also is a volunteer with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. Baker won a statewide award for her contributions to literacy.