Aspire’s Student/Family Liaison Diane Hobbs partnered with the Gary Literacy Coalition Executive Director Lori Johnson Kuykendall to organize a fun-filled and educational evening.
Kuykendall was the guest speaker. She gave parents insights into the importance of reading, along with ideas on creating a reading environment for their children. She stated that parents should focus on their child’s interests, then get age-appropriate books for them to read about their interests. Also, she made a point of asking parents to read to their children, and with their children. If parents show a love for reading, that will empower their children to read more, she said.
Two staff members participated by performing; one did a dramatic reading and the other read a light-hearted children’s book.
Interventionist Djuana Anderson performed in character as she read a book to the audience, “Don’t Touch My Hair,” by Sharee Miller.
Kindergarten Teacher Denina White, did a Langston Hughes dramatic reading. Hughes was an African American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist who died in 1967.
Interventionist Djuana Anderson read a book to the audience "Don'tTouch My Hair", by Sharee Miller. It’s an entertaining picture book that teaches the importance of asking for permission first as a young girl attempts to escape the curious hands that want to touch her hair.
“It was awesome,” Hobbs said. “Both captivated the audience and left them wanting more. Reading something in character really adds to the reading experience and I wanted the families to see what it was like.”
Books donated by the Literacy Council were made available for families to take home.
Literacy is a subject near and dear to Hobbs’ heart and soul. She has worked at Aspire since the school opened 14 years ago. For 28 years before that, she was a member of the local police department. In her role as student/family liaison and as one of the school’s event organizers, she has decided that some aspect of literacy will be in integrated into everything she does this year.
Families attended the literacy night at Aspire and enjoyed dinner, as well. It’s a year-long literacy campaign called Rev Up For Literacy.
“Literacy is the ability to read, write, and communicate. Business offices communicate with their writings. People communicate with speaking. Banks communicate with numbers. All of that is literacy, making you more knowledgeable,” Hobbs said. “If you can read, you can do math, you can do social studies, science, your finances, digital literacy, all by learning how to read. And I am big on that. So, I took that as my undertaking for this year, literacy.”
Executive Principal ReNae Robinson ended the evening letting parents know that reading is fundamental and provided ideas to motivate students to read.
“Rev Up For Literacy was a fun and engaging night at Aspire,” Robinson said. “It was only the beginning as we continue to ‘Level Up’ during this school year.”
It was a delightful evening of sharing best practices learned in teaching literacy, explained Hobbs. “The parents received eye opening suggestions and ideas on ways to help their children with reading. Everyone went away with a renewed interest in ways to teach reading to their children. I believe they learned reading is power!”
Aspire Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Gary, Indiana, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.