Nancy Coble Damon, director of the Virginia Festival of the Book for 20 years, received the Samuel Miller Memorial Award at a dinner at the Miller School of Albemarle October 18.
The school confers the award to recognize community leaders. “This award goes to someone who actually does something to improve the lives of kids,” said Miller headmaster Rick France.
Miller students are required to do service projects and one group has been involved with staging the book festival for four years now. They work on the poetry section and say their intellectual horizons are influenced by Damon’s suggestions about books to read.
English teacher Peter Hufnagle, who is on the award’s selection committee, credited Damon with being a “mastermind” for being able to organize the festival, which he also called “Shakespearean” in scope. “It’s one of Charlottesville’s and the Commonwealth’s most cherished weeks of the year,” he said.
Damon was also referred to as the festival’s “crown jewel.” The festival is a project of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Damon, in a brief, modest acceptance of the award, a medal, thanked her coworkers and said she feels a special connection with Miller’s motto, “Mind, Hands, Heart.”