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VOL. 128 | NO. 141 | Monday, July 22, 2013

Literacy Mid-South Joins ‘Our Children. Our Success.’

By Bill Dries

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Editor’s Note: Part of a series about the “Our Children. Our Success.” campaign. The effort to prepare parents for what promises to be a milestone school year in Shelby County now involves the community’s recently retooled literacy organization.

Literacy Mid-South is joining the “Our Children. Our Success.” campaign to host several public meetings with parents throughout the county on what to expect for the first school year of the consolidated countywide school system.

Other nonprofits are also teaming with the campaign to host similar sessions.

Literacy Mid-South hosted a session Tuesday, July 16, in the Grahamwood area with Latino Memphis.

The next forum is Thursday, July 25, at the Boys & Girls Club, Porter Goodwill Branch, 620 S. Lauderdale St.

The Daily News is a partner in the “Our Children. Our Success.” effort.

Literacy Mid-South partnership development manager Jeff Rhodin said the idea is “to kind of give an idea to community members of the full scope of education support that is available in the community.”

“I think that’s why all the partners hopped on board. The school system we don’t work as closely with. They have a lot of details to work out. I think the main thing is get your kids registered July 30.”

Many parents are concerned about the basics of the transition to a unified school system, like the new transportation plan for students who ride a bus to school, course offerings and teachers.

Meanwhile, Literacy Mid-South has launched its Read Memphis Project for spreading “pre-literacy GED” programs through training those who will work with adults and children outside the school system. The GED is the equivalent of a high school diploma for those who have left high school before graduation.

GED trainers get their own training in technical assistance, organization management and the curriculum, which is aimed at the 120,000 plus adults in Shelby County who cannot read at a sixth-grade level.

“This is getting people up to a sixth-grade reading level,” Rhodin said. “It’s the step before you can get to your GED. For the GED, you need to be at a reading level ideally of an eighth-grade level.”

Low reading achievement levels are a common problem educators within and outside school systems and different types of schools are struggling with in Shelby County.

This month, “Write Memphis,” which had been an independent nonprofit, also became part of Literacy Mid-South. It has a similar aim of training instructors to spread the creative writing approach to raising reading comprehension.

“We’re going to train other organizations to do this program,” Rhodin said. “It creates creative writing groups for students of any age.”

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