Tahoe/Truckee officials aim to use All America City award to improve children’s literacy
August 24, 2012
TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; and#8220;I now know what it feels like to win an Oscar.and#8221;
That’s what Laura Abbey Brown, executive director of Excellence in Education Foundation, said this week about the All America City title that Tahoe/Truckee received this July at a three-day national conference and award ceremony in Denver.
and#8220;You’re sitting in the audience, waiting in anticipation to hear the community’s name, and when it was called, we went on stage to accept the award,and#8221; she recalled.
The distinction of All America City has been given out since 1946. It is the oldest and most admired community recognition program in the nation, according to the All America City Award Marketing Manual.
Since the award’s inception, more than 600 communities have won the title of All America City and#8212; some of them multiple times. Each year, the National Civic League, a 117-year-old nonpartisan, nonprofit organization recognizes 10 communities whose residents are able to work together to identify and address community challenges.
This year proved to be an exception when 14 communities were declared award winners, with Tahoe/Truckee among them.
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and#8220;It was really exciting,and#8221; Brown said, in regard to winning. and#8220;We felt going in that we had a good chance, that we put together a good campaign.and#8221;
Each year the National Civic League selects a central issue, and by partnering with the National Grade Level Reading Campaign, this year’s focus was to improve third grade reading skills in the years to come.
Being able to read at grade level by the end of third grade is critical to the future academic and life success of children, Brown said. It is then when students shift from and#8220;learning to read to reading to learn.and#8221;
Nationally, two-thirds of students are not reading at grade level by the end of the third grade, said Rob Leri, superintendent of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, compared to the current rate of 47 percent of TTUSD students.
and#8220;It’s a call to action to educators and communities because this is the foundational skill, and anything you’re doing requires the ability to read and write,and#8221; Leri said. and#8220;In order to be globally competitive, we have to have a literate population, and literate meaning beyond basic skills, but at the very least, all of our kids should be reading at grade level by the end of third grade.and#8221;
Some of the main reasons for poor literacy among children are, Leri said: summer learning loss, which occurs when students don’t practice their reading skills over summer vacation; school readiness, the preparedness of children upon entering kindergarten; and chronic absentees, students missing a large number of school days for any reason.
Tahoe/Truckee’s campaign, Tahoe Truckee Reads, focuses on addressing all three factors to improve students’ reading skills over a 10-year period, and is already taking its first steps in doing so.
This summer teachers went into neighborhoods once or twice a week to read with young students to help stave off summer learning loss, Brown said. In addition, the Truckee, Tahoe City and Kings Beach public libraries offered summer reading programs for children, while the libraries of Glenshire Elementary and Tahoe Lake Elementary opened their doors every Thursday morning.
The goal of the campaign is to have 80 percent of area students by the end of third grade reading at or above grade level by 2020, Brown said.
and#8220;I would love it to be 100 percent, but we are trying to create an achievable goal,and#8221; she said.
While Tahoe/Truckee does receive any money as an All America City, it doesn’t mean the community is lacking in resources to help achieve its goal.
and#8220;By being one of the 14, it does open up doors to funding opportunities at a level that’s not necessarily available for individual school districts or individual communities,and#8221; Leri said. and#8220;When we went to Denver as one of 32 finalists, people were seeking us out as hallmark programs in which they were willing to help find funding to make things happen, to implement the plans and more. Networking and the connections the designation (All America City) has brought us has a lot of potential and possibility for helping fund these efforts.and#8221;
and#8220;Being an All America City will allow public and private partnerships to develop,and#8221; said Jennifer Montgomery, Placer County Supervisor for District 5. and#8220;It’s not going to be instantaneous; it’s going to be an evolution of benefits.
Some of the more immediate benefits Montgomery foresees for the community are families reading more together, kids attending and participating in school more often, and greater community involvement.
and#8220;It’s the groundwork for a healthy adult community that will make Nevada and Placer County a very successful place to live,and#8221; Montgomery said.
In 2016, Tahoe/Truckee will return to Denver to show the community’s progress with its award-winning plan.
and#8220;It’s an incredible honor and recognition of this community, and now we have to get to work,and#8221; Leri said.