Friday, September 20, 2013

Thank you for your continued support in improving student achievement

Dear Reader to Reader:

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of Tougaloo College, we would like to personally thank you for the Basic Mathematics textbook donation of 200 textbooks. The students and parents of the community have found the textbook to be invaluable and a great resource of foundational skills in mathematics.

We look forward to your continued support in providing any additional textbooks that would not only enhance the initiatives for our first year students, but also our outreach communities to reach our preservice and in-service teachers with a supplement for the Common Core State Standards, afterschool tutoring programs, and upperclassmen that need a refresher. Students must have a foundation in mathematics in order to extend the concepts outside the classroom to connect with real-life applications. Your textbook has been a proven and effective model in providing teachers with the needed tools to reinforce and remediate concepts in the targeted areas, thereby covering more materials, and teaching more in-depth.

Thank you for your continued support in improving student achievement.

Demetria White
Instructional Technologist/Assistant Professor Mathematics
Tougaloo College
Tougaloo, Mississippi

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Crowning Achievement

Ophelia Hu, Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator, had a unique honor bestowed on her recently.

Last week, I had the honor of judging the Miss Utah Navajo Pageant. Pageants are a foreign world to me, and I knew little beyond the Q & A slip-ups of former Miss Americas and the terrors of Toddlers and Tiaras.

But pageants in the Navajo Nation are serious. These women can butcher sheep, build fires, learn a wealth of songs and dances, showcase their artistry and language and cultural know-how, and are called upon to be lifelong forces of change for their tribe. They come from a wealth of backgrounds and consider their education and the education of others a critical priority. These women are strong.

Present as an example to these women was Miss Indian World 2013-2014, Kansas Begay, who was also the first Navajo Miss Indian World.

Upon relinquishing the crown, Miss Navajo's responsibilities continue for a lifetime. No air-headed Q & A, stilettos, or bikinis here. The talent portion of Miss Utah Navajo included both "modern" and "traditional" portions and included powwow dances, artistic showcases, and presentations about bullying. Navajo comedienne and storyteller Sunny Dooley served as the night's emcee and constantly brought the audience to uproarious laughter in two languages under two minutes. Instead of a summer-wear competition, the contestants were asked to present traditional wear, which consisted of elaborate silver and gemstone jewelry, most of which was handmade, and velveteen and self-sewn rug dresses. All contestants donned buckskin moccasins and traditional hair buns.

At times I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to be allowed to judge, but it was an experience I'm glad to have witnessed. I'm so thankful to the First Lady's Office and the Miss Navajo Council for letting me be a part of this great celebration of womanhood.

Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator is funded through the generous support of the Fordham Street Foundation, the Hiatt Family Foundation, and Jean and Lynn Miller.)  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Promoting College Access on the Navajo Nation

Ophelia Hu (center), Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator, is part of a team put together by the Office of the First Lady of the Navajo Nation that is visiting reservation schools to promote college access.

Most recently the team conducted workshops at Crownpoint High School in Crown Point, New Mexico and at Tse Yi Gai High School in Pueblo Pintado, New Mexico.

We are so pleased to be part of a team that is encouraging Navajo high school students to attend college and helping to give the tools to do so.

Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator is funded through the generous support of the Fordham Street Foundation, the Hiatt Family Foundation, and Jean and Lynn Miller.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Spotlighting One Parent’s Experience with DiscoverBooks

One mother’s story in the DiscoverBooks Program

Rose, mother of four boys including a second grader and fifth grader at EN White School, moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts two years ago from Puerto Rico. Like many immigrant families, she moved here so that her children could have access to better education and opportunities. With the whole family speaking only Spanish at the time of their arrival, it was a tough adjustment.

Her two older sons now speak perfect English, but for Rose learning English has been a slower process. This has long been a source of frustration given that she is eager to get a good job to better support her family. Her lack of English has been the primary barrier to accessing good jobs, but what was equally difficult was the sense of feeling unconnected from the systems in her new country. She was often overwhelmed by how hard it was to understand the way things work—from not knowing how to prepare for or find a good job, to struggling to understand what was expected of her son for a school research project.

This year Rose took part in Reader to Reader’s DiscoverBooks Program, which helped her to move forward in many ways. The time spent helping parents learn English allowed her to improve at a faster pace than ever before. Spending time at her son’s school and learning about the critical importance of family literacy has made a world of difference for the whole family. Rose observed regularly in her sons’ classrooms and gained a better understanding of the school environment and behavior expectations. She also got to meet many of her sons’ teachers and become familiar with the school staff.

For the first time, Rose attended the Parent Teacher conferences. She felt comfortable since she had met the teacher through program activities activities. Using what we had practiced in class, she was able to proudly communicate with the teacher almost without a translator. One of her son’s teachers came up to the parent class teacher and told her that Rose had never come to a conference before. This time she had not only showed up and had the confidence to communicate in English, but had also been prepared with pertinent questions and an understanding of her responsibilities as a parent in supporting her children’s progress in school.

Now, Rose has a clear career goal, to become a CNA, and knows what steps she has to take to get there. This is thanks to the knowledge of job opportunities she gained through the time spent in class on career exploration. Likewise, her improving English is what’s allowed this to become a reachable goal. Rose looks forward to continuing to learn so that she can take the next exciting step of working a job that can support her family.

Rose took advantage of all that was being offered through DiscoverBooks. She made the jump from being a parent that assumes her children’s education is primarily the school’s responsibility to being a parent that takes the lead in supporting her children’s academics and development. She is able to understand and stay on top of her sons’ homework duties. She reads every night to her sons and it has become a favorite family pastime to read and act out the stories together. Rose is a model of what this program is designed to achieve.

(pictured above) Rose reading and acting out “I’ll Follow the Moon” in a presentation put on for a second grade class at EN White School.

Reader to Reader’s DiscoverBooks Program receives generous support from Mary Ann Cofrin and the AEC Trust, the Target Foundation, and the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation.