Here at R2S, we are all about reading, so we thought we would ask our new Executive Director some fun reading-specific questions to learn a little bit more about her.
What is your favorite children’s book?
My favorite children’s book that I read to my son, especially around Halloween, was “My Monster Mama Loves Me So”. Beyond the many books my son got throughout the year, every Christmas, I would get him a special one that I would inscribe, and we would read on Christmas Day. My favorite one is “The Gift of Nothing." It totally sums up our relationship and how we view gifts/giving. You should definitely read it.
Where is your favorite place to read?
I love reading before I go to bed. It’s a time to unwind and escape the day-to-day. I often fall asleep with my glasses on and a book on my chest.
What’s the last thing you read, book or otherwise?
I’ve just picked up (again) “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova. I love how she weaves time and space so fluidly and how the pieces all come together in the end. Her words are so descriptive that you can feel, see, taste every moment and place.
If you could have one author, dead or alive, over for dinner, who would it be? Why?
Madeleine L'Engle. I loved the Wrinkle in Time series and still have all the books, which I often reread as an adult. As a young girl, it was the first book I read that incorporated modern science and a strong, smart female character. It inspired me to imagine a world beyond my reality and piqued my interest in science. An interest that led me to two post-graduate degrees that incorporated both education and science.
Who inspired your love of reading?
My mom, most definitely. Her mom, my grandma Jewell, was a librarian, and books were readily available to her growing up. Ever since I can remember, we would read together every day. And while we didn’t have much growing up, we always had books. After all these years and over 15 moves back and forth across the country, I still have many of my childhood books….including “Drummer Hoff” and “The Giving Tree."
What’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
It’s a toss-up. I’ve loved the adaptations of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”. I’ve watched those cartoon specials since I was young. More recently, I’d say the Harry Potter series. I love the books (have the full set in hardback) and have enjoyed the movies as well.
When is the last time you read to someone else?
My mother has late-stage Parkinson’s and is unable to read or really do much of anything for herself. I, and others, now read her the books she’s enjoyed since she was young. Mostly children’s books that she and I have collected over the years.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would it be titled?
"What’s Your Excuse?. . .What’s Your Inspiration?" I am thankful for my journey and all the people who have been and/or are a part of it. I’ve had many wonderful, magical experiences and, at the same time, some horrible ones as well. Storytelling has always been important to me, personally and professionally. I hope to share my story one day to bring humor, hope, and inspiration to others.
What is your favorite genre to read?
I enjoy children’s books and have a wonderful collection. I lean toward Mystery and Fiction, however, it usually depends on my mood or interest at the time.
What is one of your fondest memories of growing up in WNC?
Hiking and camping in the mountains. My love of nature and the outdoors was ignited in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My parents were hippies, and we would spend countless hours, days, and weeks exploring the creeks, mountains, and trails in this area.
Read more about the new Executive Director announcement in our press release - click here.
The Power of Vocabulary
Exposure to new words at a very young age plays one of the MOST important roles in developing a robust and wide vocabulary and building strong language and literacy skills.
Research shows that while word attack skills and letter–word identification at the beginning of first grade are strong predictors of reading comprehension at the end of first grade, vocabulary was the best predictor of reading comprehension at the end of 2nd and 3rd grades.
Knowledge of many different words contributes to:
How to Make a Vocabulary Jar
Does your child's face fill with dread when you mention practicing "vocabulary?" You're not alone. Learning new words can feel overwhelming for young kids sometimes, but "vocabulary practice" doesn't always need to be monotonous flashcards and daunting worksheets. Enter . . . the vocabulary jar!
A dedicated vocabulary jar that lives in your home encourages children to regularly learn and practice new words along with their definitions.
1. Pick out words your child needs to learn - remember to use high-frequency words as well as fun, wild words.
2. Cut up paper big enough on which to fit the words (one word per piece of paper).
3. Have your child write out the word and its definition and decorate the paper (repeat this step with each word).
4. Fold up each paper so they can fit in the jar and place the jar in an easy to access place in the house.
5. Start a new tradition with your child where they pick a word out of the jar and practice it with you! Maybe it's every morning when they wake up, every night when they go to bed, or every time you head out to the car.
Tips for practicing vocabulary words:
Don't let the fun stop with the jar! Once your child has learned a new word, make it an active part of every day - use the word in regular conversation with them, play the word in a game like Scrabble or Boggle, you name it!
UPDATE: The R2S drive-in fundraising event will not be taking place this month. A virtual event is being planning for this fall, however, so stay tuned!
Fall is just around the corner, and we are excited to officially invite you to Read to Succeed's annual fall fundraiser! We are throwin' it back this year with an old-school drive-in event at the Asheville Outlets on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, from 7 p.m.-8 p.m.
Our drive-in fundraising dinner will feature a gourmet catered box dinner from Celine & Co., free giveaways, and a big-screen presentation about Read to Succeed (which you can tune into from your car's radio station) - all in a socially-distanced, safe environment.
Click the button below to learn more about the fundraising event and sign up to reserve a parking spot.
At the event, you will learn more about how R2S is working to close the literacy achievement gap in Asheville and Buncombe County. We will also be sharing how we have adapted our one-to-one reading tutoring program to a virtual format to continue tutoring and supporting K-3rd grade students in achieving grade-level reading proficiency.
Your commitment to our local students is needed more than ever. All attendees will be given the opportunity at the event to make a donation to R2S via cash, check, or mobile transaction. Our goal is to raise $50K, and we know that with your support, we can make this happen.
Please spread the word by sharing this blog post or click here to download a flyer you can print/share. We look forward to seeing you at the drive-in!
When social justice champion, Isaac Coleman, and a group of community activists started Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe (R2S) in 2009, their goal was to close the stark literacy achievement gap between Black and white students in Asheville City Schools. Over ten years later, R2S continues the work of supporting local K-3rd grade students in both Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools in achieving grade-level reading proficiency.
In July 2020, a significant $84,000 3-year grant named for Coleman, who passed away in 2016, was awarded to R2S to power new community partnerships dedicated to equitable opportunities for literacy in Asheville. The award, part of the larger Isaac Coleman Economic Community Investment plan managed by Buncombe County, was one of 5 issued for the fiscal year 2021, totaling $500,000.
“The racial achievement gaps in our local schools are some of the highest in the nation and Read to Succeed is committed to addressing this inequity,” said Ann Flynn, Executive Director of R2S. “We know literacy is a cornerstone of opportunity. We are using this strategic grant to collaborate and partner with equity-driven community organizations to further the work Isaac Coleman and others started over a decade ago.”
One of those partnerships will be with Youthful HAND, an afterschool and academic summer program for PreK-5th graders located at the Hillcrest Community Center and directed by Elinor Earle. In addition to supporting Youthful HAND by supplying digital devices students can use as part of their remote learning, the grant also enables R2S to provide academic programming and literacy support to students and their families in the Hillcrest, Pisgah View, and Deaverview communities.
“The laptops, tutors, literacy materials, and other resources the Isaac Coleman grant provides will go a long way towards equipping students with the tools they need for virtual learning,” said Earle. “And in partnership with Read to Succeed, I know we can bring our young students who are not yet reading at grade-level up to where they need to be to succeed in school.”
Buncombe County Director of Strategic Partnerships, Rachael Nygaard, shared, “The Isaac Coleman Economic Community Investment Grant calls for targeted investments toward eliminating racial disparities and championing equitable opportunity. The review team was impressed with Read to Succeed’s equitable and community-driven approach to increasing literacy, and the Board of Commissioners was pleased to award the grant.”
Read more about Isaac Coleman:
A Lifelong Activist: Isaac Coleman - The Urban News
Visiting Our Past: An Interview with Isaac Coleman - Asheville Citizen-Times
Are you passionate about social justice and closing the achievement gap between Black and white students in Asheville and Buncombe County? R2S is looking for an experienced nonprofit leader to serve as the next Executive Director.
To learn more about the job and how to apply, click here > https://indeedhi.re/33Bl5JF
Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe is dedicated to closing the literacy achievement gap between Black and white students in Asheville City and Buncombe County schools through one-to-one literacy tutoring. We train volunteers in the highly-regarded Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction. A flexible, language-based modality of teaching students to read, Orton-Gillingham engages multiple senses–visual, auditory and kinesthetic–to enhance memory storage and retrieval of sounds, syllables, and words.
After training, volunteers are matched with a K-3rd grade student in one of Read to Succeed’s partner schools in the Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools systems. For 1 to 2 hours a week, volunteer reading tutors lead hands-on tutoring sessions with their students in reading, spelling, vocabulary, and writing.
Read to Succeed also organizes literacy programming and events in collaboration with community partners throughout the year.
Full-Time Executive Director (Hiring Summer/Fall of 2020)
The Board of Directors of Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe (R2S) is seeking a leader to serve as the next Executive Director (ED). The ideal candidate is an experienced nonprofit leader with at least three years of proven successful nonprofit management. The ED will provide leadership to the organization, manage its day-to-day affairs, and is responsible for directing and formulating plans for achieving the organization’s mission and annual goals, including fundraising from diverse sources; budgeting and fiscal management; operations and human resource management; marketing and communications; and strategic planning. The ED will make it a priority to preserve and build upon the collaborative spirit that exists internally with the board and staff, and externally with the broader nonprofit community, government officials, and other key stakeholders. R2S embraces diversity and equal opportunity.
REQUIRED: Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college.
For more details about the position and to apply, visit this link on Indeed: https://indeedhi.re/33Bl5JF
Are you looking for a unique and super fun way to engage your community or family in reading? Look no further than StoryLane!
The brain child of a friendly neighborhood book club, StoryLane features one entire children's book spread out page by page across 16 different houses. The pages of the story book are laminated and posted on signs in the front yards of participating houses. Each board with pages from the story on it also has a small sign displayed indicating at which house the next page(s) of the story can be found.
In addition to the enjoyment of reading a new story and the thrill of discovering where the next page of the book is, StoryLane also offers families an activity-rich handout to take home when they are done reading! Handouts are filled with comprehension questions, research ideas, literacy activities, and sometimes, even recipes. They make for hours of fun after the reading is done and support important literacy skills for elementary-age children.
Part story time, part scavenger hunt, StoryLane is a safe, family-friendly, literacy-promoting activity for children and their parents. Families can currently enjoy StoryLane on Montview Dr. (off Coleman Ave. off Merrimon Ave.) Start at house #5 and follow the directions at each sign. While on Coleman Ave., watch for another story walk which has sprung up in numerous yards. Note: Street parking is limited and stories are changed out every 3 weeks. Please watch for traffic.
Next up for StoryLane: Jan Brett's, Town Mouse Country Mouse, up August 7th, 2020.
Create Your Own StoryLane
If you are looking to create a StoryLane in your neighborhood, talk to your neighbors and see who can join you! Then, select a children's book you all would like to post and plan it out:
Then, post signs in yards and spread the word!
StoryLane not only cultivates a love and enjoyment of reading for children young and old, but it provides the perfect family activity to do together during periods of quarantine and social distancing.
If you create a StoryLane in your neighborhood, let us know! Leave a comment below and we can feature your Story Lane on the blog.
Did you know that sight words only make up 4% of all words in the English language? Even so, it is critical that young students learn to recognize sight words just by looking at them because these words typically cannot be decoded or sounded out (and they show up frequently in reading). Examples of sight words include, "said," "also," "circle," and "were."
Research shows that using multisensory techniques to teach sight words helps students learn and remember them better than simple recitation. Multisensory techniques involve a child using their eyes (visual), ears (auditory), and touch (kinesthetic) to practice sight words.
Check out these 5 fun multi-sensory sight word activities for young children:
1. Rainbow Writing
2. Foam Letters
3. Play-Doh Letters
4. Letter Matching
5. Letter Slide
The 2019 - 2020 school year may not have ended like any of us imagined it would, but that didn't stop us from having another incredible year. In addition to on-boarding 60 new volunteers to serve as reading tutors, bringing our total volunteer base to almost 200 people, we also served 228 K - 3 students across 11 different Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools.
Over 1,200 elementary students viewed reading videos made by R2S volunteers this past spring as part of their distance learning plans. And in total, R2S volunteers spent over 10,500 hours this past school year inspiring and teaching children to read.
We are excited about big enhancements coming to the R2S reading tutoring program this summer, including online volunteer training and virtual tutoring. None of this work is possible, however, without the commitment, time, and effort of community members stepping up to help support children in Asheville and Buncombe County in achieving grade-level reading proficiency.
If you or someone you know is looking to make an impact in our community and show up for students in a big way this coming school year, get in touch today! Click here to learn more >
Learning to read is hard work, but if one thing is certain, reading regularly at home with a parent or caregiver can make a huge difference in literacy skills and abilities for young children. A 2019 Ohio State University study even found that children who are read just one book a day hear about 290,000 more words by age 5 than their peers who do not read regularly with a parent or caregiver. Being read five books a day equals a whopping 1.4 million more words by age 5.*
In addition to reading lots of stories and books together, parents can use some simple strategies while reading to help grow their child's literacy skills. Check out some of our top reading tips & tricks below, and leave a comment with any additional ideas you have for supercharging reading time with your child.
Pointing to the words of a story as you read them, or asking your child to point to the words as they read, cues their brain in key ways to create and store information. In addition to experiencing audible cues by hearing your voice, they also experience visual cues by watching your finger tracking and matching the word you are pointing to with the word they hear you say out loud.
A fundamental part of learning to read is understanding what is going on in the story as a child reads it. One easy way to flex comprehension muscles is to ask questions on each page as you read with your child. Basic questions that start with why, who, what, where, and when will get your child's wheels turning and thinking about the characters, plot, setting, and more.
Research shows that reading is one of the best ways for children to learn new words and expand their vocabulary. Before you read a story with your child, pick out and discuss a few vocabulary words from the book. Ask your child if they know what the words mean and share their definitions and examples of them being used in a sentence. Then, as you are reading the story and come across the vocabulary word, point it out to your child (or even have them cross it off a written list!).
Sight words (or trick words) are those words that children have to learn by sight because they cannot be decoded with the basic rules of the English language. Sight word examples include "said," "about," and "friend." If you are covering sight words with your child, encourage them to practice learning them using the say-spell-say method: say the word, spell the word, and say it again. Bonus: Use a kinesthetic method of learning the word by having your child trace the letters of the word with colored pencils or markers on an index card as they spell it - see this tip in action here.
Developing a love of reading is rooted in the confidence and comfort that comes with regular practice. Adults often want to jump in to correct a child when they stumble on a word or pause because they do not know it. Giving that child an opportunity, however, to sound it out, decode the syllable types, or use context clues to figure it out does wonders for their reading abilities. You'd be surprised how often a child can self-correct when reading, and when they do, it gives them the sense of success and achievement that boosts their confidence and love of reading.
What other reading tips and tricks do you use to support your child's literacy? Leave a comment!
This spring, Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe (R2S) is focusing on growth - both in providing the one-to-one tutoring that helps young readers grow and adapting our program to our new reality of social distancing.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are creating and sharing more educational resources and literacy content on our website and social channels, including story time videos made by our volunteer reading tutors. These are available to local teachers to use as part of their distance learning lessons. Remote volunteer training is also in the works as well as a pilot program to test out virtual tutoring through video conferencing.
The long-term closure of schools this spring affects the students we work with in more ways than we can imagine. We fully expect to see the combined effects of traditional summer slide plus months without classroom instruction and one-to-one tutoring reflected in students’ fall 2020 reading assessment scores. We know that the need for R2S reading tutors will be greater than ever when schools reopen, and we anticipate an increased number of referrals from teachers for our services.
Bottom line: WE NEED YOUR HELP. Your generous investment in our work will help us respond to this unprecedented situation and enhance our programming, recruit and train more volunteers, as well as serve more elementary students who are behind grade-level with their reading.
Can you help us reach our spring fundraising goal of $10,000 by June 15th, 2020? Click the button below to donate securely online, and please spread the word!
Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe (R2S) is a local, independent nonprofit on a mission to close the