2019 Literacy Hero: Pat Portwood
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.
Pat Portwood of Turlock was recently honored by the leaders of the Great Valley Bookfest, who presented her with their Literacy Hero Award.
Portwood has dedicated her life to literacy and learning. During her 35-year career as a teacher, principal, and district administrator (including more than 20 years with Modesto City Schools), Portwood has positively influenced the education of thousands of students.
When she retired in 2010, she did not slow down. For the past nine years, Pat Portwood has played a very active role in promoting literacy in the central valley.
In 2012, Portwood joined the Stanislaus Library Foundation, which raises funds for all thirteen libraries in Stanislaus County. From 2013-2018, she served as chairperson for the Library Foundation, and she continues to serve as vice-chair. She has been instrumental in raising thousands of dollars each year to support library youth summer reading programs – programs which would not exist without those funds.
In 2017, Portwood co-chaired the committee to pass Measure S, the “Save Stanislaus Libraries” initiative. She spent many days and evenings making informative presentations about library services at numerous service clubs and organizations throughout Stanislaus county. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Portwood and other volunteers, the measure to secure library funding for an additional 12 years passed by more than 80%.
Portwood has long been an active member of the Friends of the Turlock Library, currently serving as Vice President for that group. She helps to organize the library’s annual book sale and to raise funds for library programs. She also devotes many hours to support the process of building a new Turlock Library.
In addition to her work with schools and libraries, Pat Portwood supports lifelong learning for adults. She is an active member of the Tuesday Women’s Reading Club in Turlock.
She is also active in the Turlock-Modesto branch of the American Association of University Women. In 2017, she received the Outstanding Women Award from the Stanislaus County Commission for Women.
“During her long career and throughout her retirement, Pat Portwood has supported literacy for all ages,” commented Melissa King, who chairs the award committee. “We agree that she is an outstanding woman, and we are lucky to have her among us. We are proud to recognize her as one our region’s Literacy Heroes.”