The Aiken Branch of the American Association of University Women recognized one of Aiken Standard's own for his coverage of education in this county.

The Aiken Chapter of the American Association of University Women recognized several individuals in the community who promote education.

Branch Members

• Fern Brooks worked in the 1970s for the passage of Title IX, which was a landmark decision to ensure girls equal opportunity in sports within the public school.

• Sally Farris worked as an Aiken County librarian for 18 years.

• Cecelia “CeCe” Antoon Reynolds, who passed away in the summer of 2012, was instrumental in starting the Hopelands Gardens' Concert Series, and was a founding member of the Aiken Choral Society.


• Jackie Hill is a long-serving volunteer for Aiken's AAUW Books 'n' Things fundraiser.

• Phyllis Pellerin has volunteered with Books 'n' Things for over six years, working with the current book section and as a cashier during the sale.


• Dr. Joseph R. Brooks, who passed away in September of 2012, served as a principal, administrator and superintendent of Aiken County Schools.

• Laura Coakley Patton devoted more than 18 years to the public schools in Aiken County being a curriculum coordinator, a Reading Recovery teacher, and currently a Reading Recovery Coordinator.

• Lucinda Parks-Kenner taught English, Spanish, and French for many years at Martha Schofield High School and Denmark-Olar High School. Though retired, she continues to teach Spanish and Remedial Studies at Second Baptist Preparatory School.

• Lisa Raiford is an elementary level teacher at an alternative education facility in the Aiken County Public Schools and was selected as the Aiken County School District Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013.


• Eleanor Bookstaver, who passed away in May of 2012, organized the Aiken Women's Heart Board in October of 1968.

• Rep. William “Bill” Clyburn, and his wife, Beverly are long time educators and public servants in Aiken County.

• Rob Novit is an education reporter who has worked more than a combined four decades covering education for both The Press and Standard in Walterboro and the Aiken Standard.

Rob Novit was one of several individuals recognized at the Association's annual Named Gift Recipient Recognition Dinner for their contributions in promoting education in the community on Monday night.

Novit was humbled, stating that he shares the honor with a wonderful group of volunteers, teachers and public servants. Some of the recipients were individuals who he's written stories about over the years.

“It's a real pleasure to receive this award with some very special people,” Novit said. “It's such an honor for something I truly love to do.”

Novit has been with the Aiken Standard since Sept. 11, 2001, covering the education beat. Before coming to Aiken, he spent 32 years at The Press and Standard in Walterboro as the publication's education reporter and as an associate editor.

“I have never known a reporter so dedicated to his craft,” Aiken Standard Executive Editor Melissa Hanna told the association. “Rob is an inspiration to each and every one of us, every single day.”

The local chapter of the Association recognized 13 people as Named Gift Recipients at its annual dinner on Monday. The Association is a national nonprofit that raises funds for grants to give to women seeking a higher education. The Aiken Branch's main fundraiser is Books 'N Things, which goes toward those grants, and, for each $500 donated, someone from the community receives recognition for his or her work that exemplifies the principles of the association.

Linda Hook, co-president of the Aiken Branch, said that they had a wonderful turnout and was ecstatic to have the opportunity to recognize a group of individuals who have had such a positive impact on the community.

At the end of the presentation, the Association took a moment to recognize one more individual who it plans to make a Named Gift Recipient next year. Margaret Ann “Bouncie” Lista, who passed away in August, was described as a fun-loving, proactive and very influential woman to the Aiken community. She taught home economics at several schools and was also an elementary teacher at St. Mary's Help of Christians Catholic School. Lista was involved in many different local organizations including the Association.

For more information on the local chapter of the Association, visit

Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010.