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Literacy, A Joyful Pathway To Possibilities
Posted On:
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
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by Kim Haslem and Rolayne Hanson

Our commitment to students’ success in literacy endeavors within the framework of Nevada K.I.D.S. Read, Nevada’s Read by Grade 3 Program, weaves together colorful threads with our White Pine County School District’s vision. "We will change the world by creating a world-class learning environment where all participants work interdependently to achieve our mission which is to promote, support, and ensure high levels of learning."  Literacy is our district’s brand of success.

Literacy frames our state’s vision. "As the Superintendent of Public Instruction, I have focused this year on a number of new initiatives that will ensure all Nevadans are ready for success in the 21st Century. Literacy remains the sole foundation for all learning. One’s ability to effectively read, write, speak, and listen ultimately becomes the primary factor for determining one’s overall success in life--no matter what profession one chooses" (Dale A.R. Erquiaga, 2016).


...and our world’s vision. "Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development for everyone, everywhere. Literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right. Literacy is finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman, and child can realize his or her full potential" (Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, 2001).

For those fortunate enough to teach elementary students, one could argue that our greatest opportunity to alter our students’ life prospects comes through teaching them to read, write, and communicate effectively. No single method of intervention will have as dramatic an effect on a student’s future learning and success than a solid foundation in literacy. The acquisition of effective early literacy skills at this level truly provides a springboard into all future learning. Literacy illuminates the pathway to a world of possibilities.

I appreciate the opportunity of working with educators to promote, support, and ensure high levels of learning for all students. In light of this effort, educators of White Pine County School District are literally changing the world. I especially love being with students, helping them become better readers, writers, thinkers, speakers, and listeners.

Each child in our district has the support of educators working interdependently to promote, support, and ensure high levels of learning. Joy Canenaugh, a 4th-grade student at McGill Elementary, defines the essence of learning in these words: "Learning is for my life and my dreams. I want to learn all I can to have the best life and all dreams possible."

Joy’s name describes her well. She is a joyful person, determined to learn well no matter what obstacles lie in her path. Over the past two years, she has demonstrated joyful perseverance in becoming a reader and writer.

When I recently read with Joy at a Literacy Lunch in McGill, she brought the book Astronauts in Space. She then proceeded to read ten pages of informative text, decoding high-level vocabulary words, using her Spalding word analysis skills in order to monitor her comprehension.While listening to Joy read, I marveled at her ability to manipulate text and make connections. I thought of her remarkable transition to becoming a fluent and expressive reader.

Joy and I had a lively conversation regarding how astronauts live in space. We decided that astronauts are not only brave, they are inventive. "Space life is not for wimps," Joy quipped.

Crystal Kunz, another educator who supports Joy’s learning, recently commented, "I have had the privilege to work with Joy this year. She is an energetic, positive determined student who is a light to all those around her. She truly is a 'Joy' to be around! Using a mixture of strategies and repeated readings, she has increased her reading ability this year one grade level in just 3 months. She has been working diligently to improve her writing skills this year and is making tremendous growth. She has been applying her phonogram knowledge to identify tricky multi-syllabic words with very little guidance. She is doing very well with her spelling dictation and remembers the rules and strategies she has been taught. It is always fun to hear her fluently read a passage, complete with silly voices appropriate to the text! I wish I had 20 more students who were like her!"

Lori Carson, a Read-by-Grade-Three tutor, has witnessed Joy’s progress this past year. Lori expressed her enthusiasm with the following words: "As I think about Joy from last year to this year, I am in awe of how much she has grown and learned. Reading last year was challenging for her as she had to decode almost every word. She sounded like a robot. Naturally, it was difficult for her to comprehend what she read as all her energy was spent on decoding. Her reading this year isn't robotic. She adds an emotional voice to the text. Her comprehension is soaring and her fluency has turned around. It is a joy to listen to her read. I know that she enjoys reading now. She is living up to her name, Joy! I am so proud of her hard work to improve her reading fluency and comprehension."

White Pine County School District educators teach learners to be active and informed beings who make brave choices in their lives, community, and on the ever-shrinking world stage. We empower learners to activate their curiosity, effectively collaborate and communicate, thoughtfully gather information, discover what is most important in order to stimulate their independence. Students engage as with the world as strategic readers and writers. Our students dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. Together, we are the change we want to see in the world.