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Thursday, February 2, 2012

One way to Unite...Community

Yesterday I met with leaders at the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County to present a possible project that helps to fund Bridgeport teachers to participate in the Connecticut Writing Project in Fairfield. My knowledge of working with urban youth has demonstrated that strong ties with community agencies builds stronger support systems for academic success. Literacies in school grow stronger when out-of-school organizations collaborate on programming to build the strengths youth already have.

In my vision, teachers who go through the National Writing Project model would also be required to meet with at least one organization, like United Way, to discuss what their classroom goals are and learn how other support networks exist for children beyond school. My research showed me that youth often write beyond school and seek opportunities to have their belief systems, dreams, and goals encouraged. That is what United Way does. They work with many programs, including pre-school and parenting support to begin foundations of life-long literacies. K - 12 teachers benefit from the strengths of such programs if, and only if, they are aware of the excellent work that occurs beyond classroom walls.

The dream is to begin having a cross-age, cross discipline, cross-school, and cross-community dialogue about the writing that 21st century school-aged children need. Writing transcends the academic assessments of national examinations and state tests; to best prepare tomorrow's graduates, more needs to be known about the communication they desire to do, the genres they will experience in their lives, and the outlets in which they can communicate.

Literacy, after all, is not a school event alone.

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