Thomas Elementary Pilots Literacy Center Program
From Arizona Daily Sun, November 23, 2019. Kaitlin Olson.
Raising Readers, funded by a grant from Coconino County, is the Literacy Center’s first initiative with early childhood literacy. Volunteers have committed to working with their students for the entire school year.
“Serving adults is our primary focus, but we definitely saw the need to also support our children in the community,” said Dianna Sanchez, executive director of the Literacy Center.
Student participants were selected based on exam scores that suggested a need for additional support in the area of phonemic awareness: familiarity with the individual sounds that make up words. In Raising Readers, their progress is measured daily by their volunteers and is assessed at the beginning and end of the year.
Principal Ginni Biggs said another goal of Raising Readers is to create students who not only have the ability to read, but also have the desire to do so.
“A love of reading is being instilled by the attention and the support they are getting from these one-on-one relationships [with volunteers] but also by the books that are being gifted to them through the Literacy Center,” Biggs said.
“If this program proves to be successful at Thomas, we hope to expand it to other FUSD schools and to continue offering this level of support for students across the district,” Sanchez said.
Biggs, too, is considering expanding the program within the school, using similar curriculum and the help of Literacy Center volunteers to provide students support in other pre-reading skills like phonics, the relationship between letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make.