2012 – Teaching the World to Read!
I am brimming with excitement at the arrival of 2012 and all the promise it holds for literacy in general and the expansion of EBLI specifically! At the end of 2011, I officially brought on a business partner, Jordan Wolfe. Jordan is now in charge of the business and technology development of EBLI; his brilliance, energy, and past experience are awe inspiring and have already been and will continue to be instrumental in helping expand the reach of EBLI from every angle. He has worked tirelessly in orchestrating the building of our new web site including those amazing videos, created the initial EBLI instruction online software that we piloted and now have ready to take out to the world, is overseeing the building of our EBLI high level vocabulary online instruction for older students, has been plugging away at the tedious job of creating a business plan to reflect our expansion, and has tapped into his unending source of energy and expertise to create and organize a plethora of other necessary projects. I enthusiastically welcome Jordan as a partner and greatly appreciate his talents as well as his passion for our mission to Teach the World to Read and not least of all, his calm approach to every circumstance we encounter!
Over the past year, word of EBLI and the unprecedented gains that students experience with EBLI instruction has spread like wildfire through education circles in Michigan and beyond. This has resulted in a huge increase in demand for EBLI trainings. Much of my focus has been on figuring out how to scale up EBLI to expand the number of trainees, and thus students, that we can reach without sacrificing the quality and integrity of the system. Great strides have been made in this area! Cricket McCarthy, who has been with EBLI and Ounce of Prevention Reading Center since 2004 and is an expert EBLI interventionist and consultant, has begun teaching trainings. We have videotaped all of our trainings and are creating a model to bring on other expert EBLI teachers to become EBLI trainers. Wendy Miller, reading specialist for the 42 charter schools chartered by Grand Valley State University and EBLI teacher since 2005, will be the first from outside our center to go through the certification process to become an EBLI trainer and help pilot the new model.
Last year I helped the Heart of West Michigan United Way write a grant to use EBLI exclusively as an SES provider. We have trained their first group of tutors and they will begin working with students in January. The HWMUW has a strong focus on literacy and we look forward to working with them and assisting them in their literacy goals.
This past year, in conjunction with the Future Midwest Conference that Jordan founded and was in charge of, we held the first Teach the World to Read summit at the Book Cadillac in Detroit. I invited about 50 people from around the country who I felt were innovative and at the leading edge of bringing literacy instruction that actually works out to the masses. There were over 40 attendees, from authors to educators, from administrators to parents, foundation presidents to adult tutors, hailing from across Michigan as well as from locales around the country such as Pennsylvania, Maryland, and California. What a powerful day we experienced!! Hopefully, this will become an annual event, expanded to include even more literacy missionaries.
As I am sure most everyone has noticed, the landscape of education has morphed dramatically this past year and promises to continue to do so. I am hopeful that the changes, whether perceived as positive or negative, will be instrumental in accelerating the progress of getting the research-based literacy instruction that works out to the masses. Whether through public, private, or charter schools, community organizations, or adult literacy programs, every citizen in our country deserves the basic human right of being taught how to read and write to their highest potential. I resolve, this new year, to continue to do all that I possibly can to bring that goal closer to reality. A very happy new year to all and special thanks to all of you ‘literacy missionaries’ who vow to do the same!