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Superintendent honored for literacy efforts
Turlock Unified School District Superintendent Sonny DaMarto was honored by Learning Quest Stanislaus Literacy Centers for his literacy efforts. - photo by Photo Contributed

Turlock Unified School District Superintendent Sonny DaMarto isn't just making a difference in the lives of Turlock students, he's also helping to end illiteracy in Stanislaus County.

Learning Quest Stanislaus Literacy Centers awarded DaMarto the Jean and Clyde Dunlap Award at the nonprofit's annual luncheon. The Jean and Clyde Dunlap Award is named after a couple who were longtime volunteers and devoted their time to literacy education, even taking the bus to the county jail when they could no longer drive in order to teach.

“The Jean and Clyde Dunlap Award is representative of someone will do whatever it takes to increase literacy and this awards luncheon is a way for us to acknowledge people who are making an impact on literacy in some way,” said Karen Williams, executive director of the Learning Quest Stanislaus Literacy Centers.

DaMarto received his award at a luncheon on March 7 at the Cross Point Community Church in Modesto where he was also endowed with several certificates from dignitaries including Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, Congressman Jeff Denham, and Senator Anthony Cannella, among others. The superintendent has made significant efforts to maintain literacy services in the District by not cutting any literacy or adult programs in the past six years, despite difficult economic circumstances. Some of these programs include preparation courses for both English and Spanish learners so that they can take the GED.

 “I think it’s an important service to the community and we deal with students who are 18 years old to the elderly,” said DaMarto. “Reading is the foundation for education and once you’ve taught someone to read, then information becomes open to them. The reading and understanding of language provides an avenue for all literate people to access and pursue careers and be able to interact and have interpersonal relationships."

DaMarto recently read to a class at Wakefield Elementary for Read Across America Day that coincided with Dr. Seuss’ birthday. You can view this video at or