Gloversville educators, the mayor spread the word: children learn when parents speak

GLOVERVILLE – When a fifth-grade teacher in the Gloversville Expanded School District saw the scores of third, fourth and fifth graders on their English-to-English exams starting in 2019, she decided she wanted to think more broadly. improving literacy rates and readiness. neighborhood children.

These pre-COVID scores showed that proficiency on the exam, which measures reading and writing skills, was achieved by 36% of third-graders, 34% of fourth-graders and 22% of fifth-graders. year, according to data from the State Department of Education.

So Nancy Brown, who taught for 18 years at Boulevard Elementary School, launched the “Talking is Teaching” initiative last spring, hoping to educate parents on the importance of conversing with their parents. children.

Brown adapted the program from materials she found on the Clinton Foundation website and began working with District Superintendent David Halloran and City Mayor Vincent DeSantis to implement the program.

“It’s really a big community effort,” said Brown, “a partnership between the school district and the town of Gloversville. They have been wonderful.

The “talking is teaching” campaign helps parents “turn small moments into opportunities for meaningful interactions,” according to the Clinton Foundation website. “Simple, everyday interactions with young children – such as describing objects seen on a walk or a bus ride, singing songs or telling stories – can build their vocabulary, prepare them for school and throw away solid foundations for their socio-emotional development, health, and lifelong development.

Brown is promoting this message about the importance of speaking out for children’s development through a partnership with pediatricians at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville. She, along with Halloran and Helen Stuetzel, the school district’s literacy consultant, are working on creating “prescription pads” for pediatricians to discuss talking and reading with parents of young children, Brown said.

They also put up “Talking Is Teaching” posters on the city’s 14 buses to get the message out, DeSantis said. The posters said “Let’s talk about the bus. Talking is teaching ”and include examples of simple conversation starters for parents.

Along with the partnership between the school district, the local hospital and city buses, Brown organized a collaborative effort between the school district and the Gloversville Public Library on a series of free “little libraries”.

Since the program began in March, the district and the public library have established 11 small free libraries. A small library has been set up in each of the three primary schools, and eight more are scattered throughout the community.

Small libraries are open 24/7, and kids are allowed to keep books they like in the library, Brown said.

According to Steutzel, many parts of the city are “book deserts,” where children cannot get to the library and do not have easy access to books, severely hampering their development as readers. “It’s really great fun because some people in Gloversville don’t have transportation to get to the library, so [now] people have instant access, ”Steutzel said.

The city bought two of the libraries and helped set up some of the others, especially in places young families are likely to go to sit, like the Castiglione Memorial Park in the city center, DeSantis said.

The school district also played a role in funding libraries, hosting weekly clothing days in the spring, where teachers and professors could donate to dress casually for the day, Halloran said.

Steutzel helped mobilize teachers to check libraries every week and replenish them with new books from a donated book stock as needed.

“Everyone is hanging on to it,” she said. “We said bring your books, and they are coming, coming. We are encouraged by the way they have been used and received.”

In addition to increased accessibility to books across town for children, Brown said she hopes the small libraries will prevent children from losing their reading progress over the summer. “Having [the] free libraries are great for reading summer slides, ”said Brown,“[we captured] photos of kids reading in free libraries, so we know they’re being used.

The Gloversville school district serves an underprivileged population, where children often start school late on vocabulary and word recognition, Halloran explained. He said he hopes this “Talking is Teaching” program will improve literacy rates, especially in the preschool and kindergarten age groups.

“Literacy is essential for academic success. It will be years before we see the real fruits of labor, ”he added.

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