Dear Grade Level Reading Coalition:
Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading
This Month we are highlighting a community member, Ms. Joanne Robinson, who has supported literacy efforts throughout Baltimore. She was the recipient of a Little Free Library at her church, Grace Memorial Baptist Church. She volunteers to help two other Little Free Libraries, along with her Chapter, which is the Baltimore Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Ms. Joanne was a special educator in Baltimore for several years. She has taught elementary to high school grades and retired from Benjamin Franklin High School 11 years ago.
Ms. Joanne grew up on the West side of Baltimore and currently resides in Southwest Baltimore. She was interested in connecting her sorority Chapter with the Little Free Library project due to the members’ connection to education and literacy. For many of the neighborhoods she supports, the libraries are not readily accessible, so the Little Free Libraries have become an accessible spot to get books.
She has been an avid reader since she was a young child. She liked reading about different places, and since she wasn’t able to travel a lot, reading was her escape. She thinks it’s important for all children to read. She says, “I don’t care how poor you are, you can still read and dream.” Her favorite book is “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcot.Ms. Joanne and her Chapter have helped to promote the Little Free Libraries in a lot of ways. They have put flyers in the community and spoken to children and adults in the community. Although her Chapter donates books, Ms. Joanne is very grateful to the Maryland Book Bank because, without them, she and her Chapter wouldn’t be able to regularly donate books.
Thank you Ms. Joanne for sharing your story with GLR. We are glad to have you in the community and glad that you are one of our partners.
Highlights from Coalition Meeting
Updates on 1st grade work: Our work continues in the six focus schools (Abbottston, Armistead Gardens, Lakeland, Liberty, Matthew H. Henson, and Woodhome).
- Connection to Enoch Pratt. We are coordinatoring two to three visits from Enoch Pratt librarians to 1st grade classrooms in our focus schools, plus one field trip for each school to the Pratt Library.
- Literacy Milestones Materials. Grade Level Reading is using the information we gained from last year’s focus groups to develop digital materials and videos for families with information about their children’s literacy development and how they can best support that growth outside of the classroom. We are excited to be partnering with Wide Angle Youth Media to produce the materials.
- ·Family Literacy Nights. These easy-to-use toolkits help schools across Baltimore host their own Family Literacy Nights, showing families of Pre-K-2nd graders actionable things to do to support reading skills at home. Multiple schools have hosted the events and more are planned for the upcoming months. If you would like access to these materials, please e-mail Ruth Farfel (email@example.com)
Spotlight: Crystal Francis, Overview of Office of Early Learning
- Early Learning Priorities. The office is working on making sure that all classrooms are high quality classrooms, students are supported prior to entering Pre-K, and play-based learning is integrated into all schools.
- Current Projects. The Office of Early Learning is working on creating a developmental milestone document to provide to families. Another goal this year is to pilote an accreditation process and work towards all classrooms being accredited by 2025. Their Leading Men program is working to get more men trained and coached in literacy. They are also developing a “Day of Play” that will focus on enrollment to get all Pre-K seats filled by communicating in advance with families about the enrollment process. Lastly, they are working to provide more support to families and children that are English-language learners.
Spotlight: Jasmyn Gilbert & Janelle Gendrano, Summer Funding Collaborative
- The goal of the Summer Funding Collaborative is to fund diverse summer opportunities to help keep students engaged and reduce summer learning loss so that more youth have the chance to reach their full potential.
- Visit bit.ly/SFCdirectory to share your summer partnership needs.
- Visit bit.ly/SFCpartners to explore collaboration & partnership opportunities.
Coalition Updates & Announcements
- The Literacy Lab, which places AmeriCorps volunteers in Baltimore City Public Schools to help students age 3 to grade 3 improve their reading skills, is actively recruiting AmeriCorps volunteers for the 2019-2020 school year. Attached here is the application.
- Join the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative and Maryland Out of School Time Network for a partnership breakfast on Thursday, December 6th from 10-1130am at Miller’s Court. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP here.
- Share your ideas for growing City Schools’ enrollment. Information sessions are scheduled for December 4th at Forest Park High School (6-8PM) and December 10th (6-8PM) at Commodore John Rodgers Elementary-Middle School
- Baltimore City Schools Choice Fair is taking place on Saturday, December 8th, 10am-3pm at the Baltimore Convention Center. All students and families are welcome! Families with students in the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th grades are strongly encouraged to attend. Learn about school options, talk to students and staff from different schools, and find out more about choosing a school.
- The State of Maryland offers two 529 college savings options to help families save and reduce the need for burdensome student loans. Maryland 529, formerly College Savings Plans of Maryland, can help give families a jump start on college savings for as little as $25 a month. The Maryland Prepaid College Trust allows families to lock in tomorrow’s tuition at today’s prices, with flexible payment plans. Additionally, low and middle income families may be eligible to receive a $250 State contribution.
- One of our partners, Centro Sol, is hosting a Holiday Drive to help families get items for the winter. For more information, click here.
Please email Ruth Farfel if there is an announcement you would like the Coalition to know about.