News & Blog: Community

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 The Literacy Center's Eleventh Annual Wine & Words event will be hosted at 333 Fountain Street NE on Wednesday, November 8 from 6-9 pm. Purchase tickets online at www.literacycenterwm.org/wine-words

The lovely Italianate home, located at the corner of Fountain and Prospect in Grand Rapids' Heritage Hill district, House Photo 2was constructed in the 1876 by Norman D. Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter was a partner in Carpenter, Judd & Company, a wholesale and retail dealership specializing in hardware and stoves. He resided in the home until the 1890s when he sold it and moved to Los Angeles.

Guest Post by Mike Nassar, M.Ed.
Director, Community Literacy Initiative

The Literacy Center's Annual Community Literacy Summit, Reading by Third Grade: Our Shared Opportunity, Our Shared Responsibility, will be held on Thursday, January 25, 2018 from 7:30 am- 1:00 pm at Grand Valley State University's Eberhard Center.

There has been no shortage of debate about the State of Michigan’s recent law on third grade reading. Schools arechild reading currently working to get the word out to families about the law and its implications, while also preparing teachers for upcoming meetings with parents. Improving reading results for children in West Michigan is important to all of us.

This year’s Community Literacy Summit seeks to bring together community members to further discuss and understand the issues and conditions associated with a child reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

Do you have something to contribute to the conversation? Our deadline has been extended to October 30 for presentation proposals for our break-out sessions.

Guest Post by Mike Nassar
Director, Community Literacy Initiative

The Literacy Center's Community Literacy Summit will be held on Thursday, Janunary 25, 2018 from 7:30 am- 1:00 pm at Grand Valley State University's Eberhard Center. 

As many of us have heard by now, third grade reading is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. According to The Campaign for Grade Level Reading, approximately 67% of children nationwide are not proficient readers by the end of third grade. It jumps to 80% for children from families with low incomes. Locally, half of all students in Kent County are not reading proficiently by third grade. For students of color, that number rises to 74%.

These statistics have very real and very significant consequences not only for each of these children, but also for ourParent and child reading community. If left unchecked, these low levels of proficiency will undermine efforts to end intergenerational poverty, close the achievement gap, and reduce high school dropout rates. Far fewer of the next generation will be prepared to participate in higher education and in our growing local economy.

We are pleased to announce the hire of Miguelina Quiñones as the new director of our Family Literacy Program Miguelina Quinones(FLP), a program that strengthens the connection between home and school by addressing the literacy needs of adults in children’s lives.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Miguelina has been a classroom teacher and school administer for 20 years. She earned her B.A. from Herbert H. Lehman College and M.A. from College of New Rochelle, and is certified in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

 Written by Chad Patton, Director of Customized Workplace English 

Developing a strong community within a classroom is one of the keys to educational success. This is perhaps even moreClassroom celebration important in a classroom of adult English language learners. After all, many of them are new to the country, or feel isolated because of their lack of English skills. In our own classes, we strive to create a sense of community in order to lessen some of that isolation and “otherness” that our learners might experience outside of the Literacy Center.

The Literacy Center offers three levels of classes to English language learners each quarter. The classes, which take place three times a week at our office, are led by instructors who work incredibly hard to not only teach English, but to create connections between learners.

Rick and Loy Adamy have never been ones to seek attention. Rick, founder and CEO of Adamy Valuation Advisors, and Loy, Rick Spellebration 2013an elementary school teacher, have instead worked quietly and steadfastly on issues that matter to them, including literacy. 

Knowing this, Jean Dugan recruited Rick to join the Literacy Center Board of Directors in 2008. She remembers, “I knew Rick for many years and was well aware of his strong leadership skills and his deep passion for this community. Recruiting him to the board at the Literacy Center made perfect sense. He was a wonderful addition.”

When Rick was elected president of the board in November 2012, it quickly became clear that his two-year term would be anything but routine. In 2013, founding director of the Literacy Center, Susan Ledy, announced her retirement and a search began for her successor. During the transition, Rick took it upon himself to shoulder the responsibility of the organization, safeguarding the mission for the next chapter. Laurie Z. Emelander, Finance Director, remembers: “It was a very stressful time for all of us. Rick’s trust in the staff and his guidance during that time was invaluable.”

Adamys at PicnicNot only did Loy share Rick with the Literacy Center during that demanding time, she got involved herself. Loy began tutoring Kamala, a mother of three from Sudan. Kamala and Loy spends 2 hours a week together, working on Kamala’s reading and listening skills. It’s even become a family affair with Rick and Loy both engaging with Kamala and her children.

Rick and Loy will be receiving our Meijer Champion of Literacy Award at our 24th annual Spellebration event. Join on May 11 as we recognize these important contributors to our mission. Tickets are available at www.literacycenterwm.org/spellebration

Christina Arnold's Sense of Place

Christina Arnold, recipient of this year's Award for Community Engagement at our annual Spellebration event, has a profoud sense of place. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Christina is the granddaughter of Daniel Christina and Mayor BlissVargas, a Mexican immigrant and one of the first Latino leaders in the community. As she tells the story, her grandfather would welcome anyone into his Grand Rapids home, providing translation services and support to his neighbors.

Formed in part by her grandfather’s passion for the Latino community in Grand Rapids, Christina spent her career at Grand Rapids Community College, helping others access educational opportunities. She was a student, then a secretary, and then an administrator. She is perhaps best known for the role she helped create at GRCC: Director of the Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion.

Family Literacy Celebration on March 21 Engages GRPS Parents in Literacy 

The Literacy Center of West Michigan is hosting its first annual Family Literacy Celebration on Tuesday, March 21 from 5:30 pm- 7:00 pm at Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Dickinson Elementary School located at 448 Dickinson Street SE in Grand Rapids.

As part of the Community Literacy Initiative at the Literacy Center, this event will support families from Dickinson and Brookside elementary by providing activities designed to promote literacy at home. Families will have an opportunity to receive culturally relevant books matched to children's reading level, in addition to door prizes and dinner. Presentations will be in English, Spanish, and Kinyarwanda. Families will also have the opportunity to connect with Grand Rapids Public Library, Schools of Hope, and Great Start Collaborative.

Mike Nassar, director of the Community Literacy Initiative remarks, "As a former GRPS principal, I understand how strengthening parent engagement will have a direct impact on student achievement. I am excited about the Literacy Celebration providing a key support for schools and families to ensure all children read at grade level."

 On Monday, December 5, the Literacy Center of West Michigan received a grant from the Michigan Office of New Americans to (MONA) to create a construction career pathway, including ESL instruction, for refugees in West Michigan. One of only five recipients statewide, the Literacy Center will be partnering on the project with West Michigan Works!, Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. West Michigan Chapter (ABCWM), and Grand Rapids Community College’s (GRCC) Workforce Training.

Through this partnership, West Michigan Works! will recruit refugees who are interested in learning English for the construction sector. The learners will begin with 10 weeks of ESL instruction from the Literacy Center in preparation for ABCWM’s 13-week Construction Core class.

Learners are expected to graduate from the 23-week course with an OSHA 10-hour certification, a National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core Construction certification, and a rough terrain forklift license.

Guest blogger: Kaylee Moreno, MSW, Director of the Community Literacy Initiative

I firmly believe that leadership and professional development are lifelong pursuits. After graduating from Ferris State University in 2014 with a BA in Social Work and from the University of Michigan in 2015 with my MS in Social Work, I began my position as the Director of the Community Literacy Initiative at the Literacy Center of West Michigan last August. I’ll admit that I wasn’t completely ready to leave the classroom for the working world, so I spent one Saturday each month participating in the Latino Talent Initiative through Ferris State University. I worked with a cohort of 16 other rising Latin@ leaders in our community on cultural awareness, professional development, leadership development, and civic engagement.

spellebration logo cl min2

Spellebration 2016 celebrated the community's efforts to bring about a just and vibrant West Michigan through the power of literacy. We were pleased to honor Mr. John C. Kennedy as the Fifth Third Bank Champion of Literacy, Ms. Carol Paine-McGovern with the Ledy Award for Community Engagement, and Ms. Alice Apol as the Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year Award.

The Literacy Center recently published our fiscal year 2015 Annual Report and Newsletter.

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