2019 Literacy Hero: Annie Cunial
Each and every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things to promote literacy in our communities. With these awards, we celebrate the selfless acts of three regional heroes who champion the cause of literacy in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

Annie Cunial Honored as Literacy Hero

Annie Cunial of Manteca was recently honored by the leaders of the Great Valley Bookfest, who presented her with their Literacy Hero Award.

In 1992, Cunial began her career as a classroom teacher. During her years in the classroom, she worked with a wide variety of students, teaching primary grades, junior high, high school, & even adult ESL.

Cunial then spent ten years as a program coordinator at Golden West and French Camp schools in Manteca, where she developed, implemented, and managed new after-school tutoring programs. She is fondly remembered as a knowledgeable and approachable administrator who was always willing to help her colleagues.

For the past eight years, Cunial has worked at the San Joaquin County Office of Education. As Coordinator of Student Events, she organized the county and state Spelling Bees, Academic Decathlon, Academic Pentathlon, Mock Trial, and other events. She currently serves as a director of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

From 2015 to 2018, she served as an influential member of Great Valley Bookfest’s leadership committee. Working as a liaison between the Bookfest committee and school districts in San Joaquin county, Cunial helped to disseminate information and materials for year-round outreach and events. Her efforts heightened public awareness about Bookfest programs and increased annual attendance.

In 2015, Cunial organized the Bookfest’s “Sip and Spell” Spelling Bee, where teams of adults are challenged to spell words like “chrestomathy,” “glissando,” and “pulchritude” while sipping fine local wines. (Who knew that a spelling bee could be so fun and entertaining?) The event was a huge success, and it is now an annual tradition.

In 2016, Cunial introduced the now-popular “Spelling Challenge” booth at the Bookfest, inviting spellers of all ages and backgrounds to flex their skills in a playful environment. She devoted countless hours planning special features and collecting prizes to make these events memorable and entertaining for all involved.

Events like these reflect her fun-filled approach to education. “It’s important not only to promote literacy, but also to recognize and celebrate it – which is what the Great Valley Bookfest does.” says Cunial. “I love being involved with groups like this: spending time with like-minded people, coming together to provide something positive to our community.”

Cunial has a long history as a community volunteer. In addition to her work for the Bookfest, she has volunteered time to support Calla 4-H, Sierra High School, St. Anthony’s Church, the Stockton Symphony Education Committee, and the Leadership Stockton Alumni Association, just to name a few.

“In her hometown and throughout San Joaquin county, Annie Cunial has diligently worked to promote and celebrate literacy,” commented Melissa King, who chairs the award committee. “Her unfailing efforts to help students succeed, to help teachers reach their full potential, and to assist community programs that support education have made a real difference in our region, so it is our great pleasure to recognize her as a Literacy Hero.”