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    Thousands of Caribbean Students Are (Still) Out of School

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Nov 01, 2017

    Nearly six weeks have passedElmore Stoutt High School since Hurricane Maria struck, just two weeks behind Irma, and, for several Caribbean islands, recovery is still in its infancy. In the wake of the storms, national media coverage has focused on the destruction in Puerto Rico—leaving other neighboring islands in the dark. The lack of media coverage, compounded by poor internet and cell phone service, means fewer donations and a longer recovery.  

    Several islands are still largely without power, food, and drinkable water. Most schools are still too damaged to reopen—worse, some are permanently shuttered.

    “Our school is basically gone. We have several buildings still standing but they’re in no condition to be used,” said Kirima S. Forbes, president of the British Virgin Islands Reading Council. “Right now we are housed in a warehouse. “We’re working on a shift schedule. Grades 7–9 go to school in the morning, in the afternoon it’s 10–12.”

    Studies show that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, schools and libraries offer respite from chaos, providing security, social-emotional support, and stability as well as connections to important community resources.

    “School needs to be open so that the kids can get back to normalcy,” said Forbes.

    As these communities crawl toward recovery, we can all do our part to help. Here’s how:

    Support for schools and libraries: 

    • DonorsChoose launched a Hurricane Irma Recovery Fund to help teachers at damaged schools rebuild their classrooms.
    • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. is partnering with All Hands Volunteers to rebuild schools in communities devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Under the Hope Starts Here hurricane relief program, the company will match individual donations dollar for dollar, up to $1.25 million.
    • Dorina Sackman, the 2014 Florida Teacher of the Year, launched an initiative called "Materials for Maestros," which allows U.S. schools to adopt schools in Puerto Rico. The first to request supplies is the Thomas Alva Edison School. Read more here.
    • The National Parent Teacher Association’s Disaster Relief Fund was established to support school communities in their efforts to rebuild and recover.
    • This year, The Laura Bush Foundation for American Libraries is devoting its resources to helping disaster-affected schools rebuild their book collections.
    • The American Library Association is accepting donations to support library relief efforts in the Caribbean.

    Local rebuilding efforts

    • Funds raised for the BVI Recovery Fund will go toward rebuilding the territory, and to helping families and individuals who lost homes.
    • The St. John Community Foundation is using donations to “reach out to more people in need, assist more service providers, and direct more funds to specific priorities.” 
    • The government of Dominica is collecting donations through JustGiving, a crowdfunding website, to provide residents with basic materials such as temporary roofing, blankets, and non-perishable food.
    • 100% of donations made to the Fund for the Virgin Islands will support long-term community renewal efforts.
    • Unidos Por Puerto Rico, created by Beatriz Rosselló, the first lady of Puerto Rico, enlists the private sector help in providing aid to those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
    • The Puerto Rico Community Foundation established the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund, which provide grants to affected communities through community-based organizations who are already active and working with the most vulnerable populations.

    National/global rebuilding efforts:

    • Among other actions, UNICEF is helping rebuild damaged schools and supplying educational materials to students and teachers, deliver emergency hygiene kits and drinking water in areas affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
    • GlobalGiving established a Hurricane Irma Relief Fund and a Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund, which support vetted local organizations.
    • Convoy of Hope continues to send food and relief supplies to the Caribbean region
    • Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations for families in the Caribbean Islands, Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic shelter, water, tarps, tents, kitchen kits, and more.
    • The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is a regional, inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean. Donations made to the CDEMA’s Relief Fund will be used to purchase relief supplies and support early recovery and rebuilding efforts. 
    • The Red Cross is distributing relief items, providing health services, meals, and snacks, and operate emergency shelters.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    One Month After the Earthquake: Mexico Still Needs Your Help

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 30, 2017

    Mexico EarthquakeIt’s been one month since Mexico was hit by the strongest earthquake in over a century. Recovery has been slow in most areas, and incremental in others—in rural towns outside of Mexico City and Puebla, thousands of people remain homeless. Without power. Without phones. Without running water.  

    During times of crisis, schools and libraries can be a refuge for children, who benefit from the sense of normalcy provided by going to school, as well as a means of accessing the information and community resources needed to rebuild. 

    Unfortunately, repairing and rebuilding efforts are often hindered by slow systems and insufficient funding. While providing residents with shelter, food, and security, should be our priority, we can’t underestimate the role that education can play in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

    “School isn’t a priority for them. They have their homes, and often they have their business next to their houses. They have to ask: How do I use my savings, in rebuilding my business or in rebuilding my house?” said Mere Rivera, promotora de lectura at Consejo Puebla de Lectura, or Puebla Council.

    We asked Rivera how the ILA community can best support rebuilding efforts in affected schools, libraries, and surrounding communities. Here’s how you can help:

    Support for schools and libraries

    • Mexico City-based librarian Verónica Juárez Campos keeps track of libraries that need assistance in her blog post, “Las bibliotecas también necesitan ayuda,” or, “Libraries also need help.” She provides contact information and lists of requested supplies, when available.
    • Libraries in the state of Morelos were among the hardest hit. Contact the coordinator of Morelos’ network of public libraries, Jesús Reyes Posadas, to inquire about donating.
    • Among many other initiatives, UNICEF is working to establish temporary schools, promote school safety guidelines, train teachers in psychosocial support, and distribute education supplies and early childhood development kits to teachers and caregivers.
    • The American Library Association (ALA) is supporting response and recovery efforts for libraries damaged by the earthquake through the ALA Disaster Relief Fund.  

    Local rebuilding efforts (sites in Spanish)

    • Casa de la Ciencia (Atlixco) accepts in-kind donations to support community education around natural disasters. Contact Jade González Minutti to learn more.
    • Donations made to Brigada Comunitaria por la Mixteca Poblana will go towards reconstruction projects and to restoring emotional, economic, cultural and social well-being in rural regions. Learn more about the brigade and how to donate here.
    • Nonprofit Avima AC’s Proyecto Epatlán is focusing on rebuilding with safer structures in the small town of Epatlán. Contact Gabriela Domínguez Gálvez for more information.
    • Fondo Unido México, part of the United Way network, has created an emergency fund to focus on the reconstruction of schools and community centers as well as training and preparation for future emergencies.

    National rebuilding efforts

    • New York City-based nonprofit Project Paz is raising funds specifically for earthquake relief.
    • Donations made through charity crowdfunding site GlobalGiving’s Mexico Earthquake Relief Fund will be used exclusively for local relief and recovery efforts.
    • The International Community Foundation has established an earthquake disaster relief fund to help local organizations meet short-term basic needs, and to assist in long-term recovery efforts.
    • Cruz Roja Mexicana, the Mexican Red Cross, is accepting direct donations online and has set up an Amazon Wish List for necessary items.

    We will continue to update this resource as we learn of new initiatives.

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    Two Months After Hurricane Harvey: Four Schools That Need Your Help

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 24, 2017
    Rockport SchoolThe average U.S. educator spends $600 decorating his or her own classroom each year.

    For teachers in schools affected by recent natural disasters that number is likely to be much, much higher. In the two months that have passed since Hurricane Harvey, affected school districts have reported millions of dollars in damage.

    ILA council the Texas Association for Literacy Education (TALE) has adopted the following four schools—all of which have suffered extensive or major damage—to support their post-Harvey recovery efforts with a donation toward literacy resources. Read on to find out how you can join TALE in helping these schools to rebuild their classrooms and libraries.

    Hilliard Elementary School
    Principal
    : Edrick Moultry
    Board coordinator
    : Malene Golding
    Address
    : 8115 East Houston, Houston, Texas 77028
    Phone
    : 713.635.3085
    Email
    : emoultry@houstonisd.org
    Donate supplies
    : Needs include spiral composition books (wide rule), pens (black, blue, red), scissors, pocket folders, notebook paper (wide rule), and more—full list available here
    Donate money:
    Mail check to the address above, to the attention of Bathsheba Nash

    Thompson Intermediate School
    Principal:
    Dr. Melissa Allen
    Board coordinator
    : Kamshia Childs
    Address
    : 11309 Sagedown Ln., Houston, Texas 77089
    Phone
    : 713.740.0510
    Email
    : meallen@pasadenaisd.org
    Donate supplies
    : The school has requested instructional supplies (visit this staff-curated Amazon Wish List) and appropriate books for students ages 12–15
    Donate money:
    Donate online here

    Rockport-Fulton High School
    Principal
    : Scott Rogers
    Board coordinator
    : Matthew Panozzo and Robin Johnson
    Address
    : 1700 Omohundro, Rockport, Texas 78382
    Phone
    : 361.790.2212
    Email
    : srogers@acisd.org
    Donate supplies
    : No supplies needed at this time
    Donate money
    : Donate through the school’s GoFundMe page, or mail a check to:
    Kathy Henderson, ACISD CFO
    ACISD Library Recovery
    PO Box 907
    Rockport, Texas 78381

    Lemm Elementary School
    Principal
    : Kathy Brown
    Board coordinator
    : Alida Hudson
    Address
    : 19034 Joanleigh Dr., Klein, TX 77388   
    Phone
    : 832.484.6300
    Email
    : kbrown@kleinisd.net
    Donate supplies: For each book donated to Lemm Elementary library through this site, Bound to Stay Bound will donate four more
    Donate money
    : Donate online here

    Don’t miss our previous posts, “Here’s How You Can Help Libraries and Schools Affected by Hurricane Harvey” and “Back to School After a Natural Disaster: Teaching Hurricane Harvey.”

    Alina O’Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    ILA Nominates Iran Literacy Project for 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA)

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Oct 12, 2017
    Read With Me

    Yesterday, Iran literacy project Read With Me was announced as a candidate for the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA)—the world's largest children's literature prize, designed to promote interest in children's and young adults' literature.  

    Each year, the award’s jury selects nominating bodies from around the world, all of which must demonstrate “expert knowledge” of children’s and young adult literature. ILA was one of only six U.S. organizations, among 226 total nominating bodies, to nominate a candidate this year.

    As ILA’s nomination committee members began to discuss potential candidates, they looked at previous award winners. How had they used the funding? How many lives had it changed? The committee wanted to support a cause that would have a far-reaching and sustained impact.

    “We felt strongly that a project that could really monetarily use the support in the most impactful way was the one we wanted to support,” said nomination committee member Junko Yokota.

    It didn't take long for Zohreh Ghaeni’s name to come up. Yokota had served alongside Ghaeni on several international award juries, including the International Board for Books of Young People, and had continued to follow her work in promoting children’s books in Iran.

    A lifelong activist, Ghaeni was twice arrested and detained for her political beliefs, journalism, and human rights defense work, which focused on youth education.

    “From the time I was 19, I knew I wanted to work with children in poor villages. I was so worried about the children that I left my university learning to work directly with them. I brought books from Tehran, I read to them, I played with them out in nature,” said Ghaeni, in her personal statement. “That was the first time that any teacher had come to them to offer such an opportunity. But teaching 20–30 children was not enough; I wanted to do more.”

    During her second, eight-year-long term in person, she did not have access to books—an experience that served as a harrowing reminder of the power of words. Once released, she began to research the history of children’s literature as a means of ideological control. Ghaeni realized she may not be able to change the education system that was oppressing young minds, but she could empower the children to help themselves, through literature.

    Her time spent in prison inspired her to found Read With Me with the goal of promoting lifelong reading habits in underserved areas in Iran. Today, the organization leads two-day workshops every three months for teachers, librarians, and volunteers, who learn how to facilitate productive read-aloud and discussion, foster literacy skills, and lead creative activities that support learning.

    Over the past decade, Read With Me has reached more than 7,000 children and young adults across 75 remote villages in Iran, trained more than 500 teachers, distributed 25,000 books and 60,000 learning activities, and established more than 90 Read With Me small libraries.

    Beyond these numbers, Ghaeni said the most important measure of success of Read With Me is the impact on children, teachers, and volunteers involved. Not only have the children developed a love of books, but have shown improved vocabulary, pronunciation, comprehension, concentration, communication, confidence, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

    Yokota said that collaboration is at the core of everything the organization does.

    “Even the name, Read With Me, was very intentional. They don’t read to the children, they read with the children,” she said. “That kind of deep thinking can be found in every aspect of the organization.”

    The committee members also recognized the organization’s emphases on high-quality literature, paired with strong professional development—key tenets of ILA’s mission.

    “It’s an approach that allows teachers to get training in how to use the books with children, how to engage them to use lit in meaningful ways,” said Miriam Martinez, chair of ILA’s nomination committee. “It not only encompasses good literature, but empowers teachers with professional development.”

    If awarded the prize, Ghaeni plans to expand the organization’s operations and continue to help more children and young adults make meaningful changes in their lives.

    The recipient will be announced in Stockholm and Bologna following the jury’s final meeting in March 2018.

    To learn more about Read With Me, visit the organization’s website and YouTube channel.  

    To learn more about the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, visit alma.se/en.

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    In Memory of Phylliss Joy Adams

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Sep 15, 2017

    Phylliss AdamsWith great sadness we announce the passing of Phylliss Joy Adams (1987–88), past president of the International Reading Association (IRA, now the International Literacy Association), the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association (CCIRA), and the Denver local council of IRA. We offer our deepest condolences to her family along with our sincerest gratitude for all that she accomplished.

    Adams dedicated her life to improving literacy instruction.  After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Northwest Missouri State University, and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Denver,  she began a long career of teaching at public schools and universities in the fields of reading and literacy.

    An internationally known speaker and consultant, she presented in over 30 states, as well as for international council in more than 10 countries. Still she found time to author more than 40 books for young readers as well as professional development materials for educators.

    When Adams wasn’t reading, writing, or traveling for work, she was doing so for fun. She and her husband of 65 years, Keith, visited all 50 states and over 100 countries. After retiring she was active in three different book clubs and volunteered as an ambassador at the Denver International Airport for over eight years.

    “She was an extremely hard worker for IRA, for her state association, and for literacy in general,” said past president Jack Cassidy (1982–83).

    Past president Carl Braun (1990–91) served on the Board during Adams’ presidency and remained friends with her since. He described her as an always-prepared, highly organized, fiercely ethical leader and “an open and friendly” person.

    During her tenure, Adams worked hard to raise the visibility of IRA councils, traveling across the U.S. and internationally to help them attract members, survey regional needs, and define their goals. She also promoted the value of children’s literature in the teaching of reading—a progressive approach to instruction at the time.

    “She always preached that whatever the [teaching] method, children’s literature has to be the centerpiece. That was the kind of belief that certainly raised eyebrows in the late 80s,” Braun said.

    Above all, he said she will be remembered as an indefatigable advocate for teachers.

    “Of the many people I’ve known in literacy education, she was one of the most avid advocates. A completely unabashed advocate for teachers everywhere. I think that’s one thing that a lot of people will remember her for, and certainly hundreds of thousands of teachers,” he said.

    In lieu of flowers, it is requested that a donation be made to CCIRA in honor of Phylliss J. Adams. The donations collected will provide scholarships to CCIRA’s annual conference held in February in Denver, CO. Checks should be made out to Cathy Lynsky, CCIRA Treasurer, 161 Quakie Way, Bailey, CO 80421.

    Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily. 
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