Miss Ruby's Kids, begun in 2003 as an early literacy program in Georgetown County, will welcome a special guest speaker Thursday. Part-time Pawleys Island resident Cokie Roberts, whose words are read in newspapers and books and heard on the radio across the nation, will discuss, "Discerning what Matters in a Media Crazed World: The Importance of an Educated Audience."
In making visits twice a week to needy households with 2- and 3-year-olds, personnel from Miss Ruby's Kids ( www.miss rubyskids .net ) work to instill in tots the enthusiasm to read, play and communicate, to better prepare them for success to carry through high school. The crews visiting homes also want to help parents realize the importance of being their children's first and best teachers.
Roberts said she was asked by Lee Brockington, historian and author of books about Pawleys Island and Hobcaw Barony, to speak in Miss Ruby's Kids "Learners for All Seasons" series.
By the end of the week, no more reservations were being accepted for the event, which will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island.
From her home base in Maryland, Roberts, a mother of two children and grandmother to six - and aware of how busy an after-school schedule can get for parents - fielded a friendly chat by phone last month, before hitting the road herself.
Question | How special is your helping Miss Ruby's Kids for early childhood literacy and emphasis on education, and has it deepened your connection and part-time residency in Pawleys Island?
Answer | I feel very strongly that as a homeowner in Pawleys Island, the Pawleys community should be part of my life, and Lee Brockington asked me to do this. It's a subject I care a great deal about. ... It's very intense work. You're talking one-on-one with a baby, and in a house with a mom or somebody. It's always very, very effective. ... We are now living in a world where we simply can't afford as a society, either competitively or morally, to lose our kids. You're not going to make a good living anymore in the steel plant in Georgetown or on a car assembly line without an education. You're going to have to be programming the robot. You have to have an education to do it now. We've got to make sure our kids have their ABCs, otherwise we'll fall behind other countries."
Q. | What do you see as the most important issue - either of your time in the broadcast TV news business or of the current age?
A. | Education is the most important issue. We are now at a place where you must be educated, and you're going to have to constantly be re-educated. You have to have the skills in order to be able to do that.
Q. | Looking back when you, Sam Donaldson and George Will all had your roundtable every weekend on ABC-TV'S "This Week" with the late David Brinkley, when the Sunday shows occupied their own universe, before the Internet-24/7-cable news age, was that not so much work for you at the time, but rather, a social get-together, a rap session?
A. | It was a lot of work (laughing). We were covering Congress every day in the hall of the Capitol, then you know the stuff. ... George [Will] is another person who feels strongly about this [early childhood education.] He has a house near Kiawah Island, so we each have a lot of S.C. connections."
Q. | How has your husband, fellow journalist and frequent co-author, Steven V. Roberts, stayed with his own niche in news analysis on radio and other media commentary, as I used to hear every week elsewhere?
A. | He did all his stations this morning, and he's a professor of George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs. We always have a book in the works. ... It's lots of writing.
Q. | Sharing the field with Steve, are there things or even tips, or extra perspectives you have gained on a subject, solely through your lifelong partner?
A. | We've been married for 45 years. There are all kinds of things the other one wouldn't have known or done. I never would have been a journalist if not for him. It was easier to make that switch as we were moving around the world.
Q. | What pastimes entice you the most when you stay in the Grand Strand?
A. | When I'm in Pawleys Island, what I'm aiming for is relaxation. It often eludes me when called upon by my grandchildren and great nieces. I do a lot of writing. I write in a closet that actually has a wonderful view of the ocean, on the north end, so I just put a desk in there. I'm always excited to come there, and I love being a part of the community. It's very important for those who are part-time residents to understand the needs of a community as a whole.