< Back

In Gratitude to Ellen Hanna...Lifelong Volunteer

Categories: General, In the news, Volunteerism

For over fifty years, our longtime volunteer and friend, Sarah Ellen Argo Hanna, contributed her time and talent in so many ways. At the age of 91, she passed leaving an extraordinary legacy – one our organization will always be grateful for and never forget.

It is not surprising that Ellen was an avid reader and found a home at Learning Ally’s recording studio. She narrated math textbooks well into her 80s, but beyond that, she was always willing to lend a hand to do anything that served our mission: entering data, preparing textbooks for recording, answering the phone, and fundraising on our behalf.  She served as chair of our local studio in Athens, GA, and on our Board of Directors. Ellen delighted in telling the story of when she answered the studio phone and a student recognized her voice and said he loved hearing her sweet southern voice explain algebra. 

Ellen and our many thousands of volunteers truly define what makes our organization’s mission so meaningful and our audiobooks special. They give life to our audiobooks -- a human touch. They record stories with purpose, passion, and intensity. Stories that every reader can deeply comprehend and connect with. They narrate subject information with depth and breadth so that more students can read and achieve with grade-level texts.

Ellen attended Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., and Birmingham-Southern College. She was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority. She earned a Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Georgia. She taught math and science at Burney-Harris Middle School and Patti Hilsman Middle School. Ellen was an early adopter of technology and one of the first teachers to bring computers into her classroom. She was an educator who recognized the impact technology could have on learning, especially for students who are blind, visually impaired, disengaged, or challenged with a reading deficit like dyslexia. 

A proud mother of five boys, grandmother, and great-grandmother of ten, Ellen loved horses, sports, traveling, and sunsets. She participated in the Athens League of Women Voters. She was a Cub Scout Den Mother, President of the University Wives Club, and member of the Glenwood Garden Club. For her extraordinary community service, she received a commendation from President Obama in 2015. 

Sarah Ellen Argo Hanna’s life accomplishments cannot begin to touch on the intangible qualities of love, integrity, and strength of character that she carried throughout her daily life. Her legacy of service to others and her devotion to learning, teaching, and family are exemplary. We honor her commitment to our organization, her community, and to humanity. 

Our team is filled with gratitude to Ellen and to all our volunteers who give so much of their heart and soul recording our audiobooks with authenticity and passion. We are thankful to our advocates and donors who continue to support our mission to champion “reading for all.”  Because of you, we are reaching and engaging 1.5 million students and 130,000 educators in 18,500 U.S. schools nationwide. Because of you, our vision remains vital – to support early literacy; to strengthen educators through professional learning; to provide quality resources to ensure equitable learning for at-risk students, and to be part of the reading solution that transforms many struggling readers into high-performing achievers.  

In her final wishes, Ellen encouraged donations to be made to Learning Ally. Her voice will live on in the hundreds of audiobooks she so lovingly recorded.  

Paper checks may be mailed directly to:

Learning Ally

20 Roszel Road

Princeton, New Jersey 08540

Thank you.