The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - 79

T OWA R D A L I T E R AT E R OA N O K E

Blue
Ridge
Literacy
Editor's Note: At time of press,
Stephanie Holladay was
executive director. The position
welcomed new director Ahoo
Salem in July 2019.

This group-not part of the
school systems, though
it works with them-was
founded in 1985 and works
primarily with adults in
reading, writing, speaking,
listening and citizenship,
according to Executive
Director Stephanie Holladay.
Holladay says it's difficult
to find adult literacy rates, so
BRL depends more on poverty
rates, "which is what we use
for grants." Poverty in the
Roanoke Valley, she says, is at
20%, vs. 13% for the state.
She sees the stigma
attached to illiteracy in
adult American students, but
immigrants learning a second-
or third, or fourth-language
don't experience that. At BRL,
students can have 1-1 tutoring,
ESL classes (on various levels)
or take citizenship preparation
class. Holladay says 89% of
last year's 351 students were
immigrants. There are as
many as 150-160 volunteers
working with those seeking
literacy.
Literacy, says Holladay, "is
constantly proving to be an
urgent and vital need. It's easy
to put on the back burner, so
we have to make our case"
constantly. -DS

TheRoanoker.com

Targeted instruction for reading is both fun and interactive.

Programs, instruction, assessment are in
place to match growth."
"By fifth grade," says W illiams,
students should be able "to do most of
what's needed in a literate society."
Rebecca Eastwood, Assistant
Superintendent for Instruction, talks
about "interventions" that "target exact
skills, so [students] can move ahead."
The County's Burton Center for Arts
and Technology has separate programs
(English as a Second Language among
them) from the school system where
some of those striving to achieve literacy
are taught. Jamie Soltis, Director of
Secondary Instruction, says the county
has its share of poor people. "Thirty
percent of our student population
qualifies for free or reduced lunches," he
points out. "There are pockets of poverty
in the county and sometimes it 's a
challenge for us."
LeGault figures that "the literacy issue
is very hard to hide. There is a stigma
remaining that drives adults to keep
[illiteracy] hidden. It's an unspoken thing
that they just don't talk about."

Salem
The Salem City School system puts a lot
of emphasis on grades 1 and 2 because, as
Jennifer Dean, Director of Instructional
Technology and Accountability, puts it,
"That's the sweet spot."
There is a six-to-eight-week targeted
instruction emphasis-rotating four
staffers-where "students love going
and teachers love teaching," she says.
"Students who don't read [prior to
the instruction] become readers. It 's
interactive, fun and they own it. They go
to class more confident."
Teachers meet in groups to address
students' progress with literacy and
they work a report card that is detailed
and contains a personal narrative. And
the curriculum is not unusual. "I like to
think this is just part of school, especially
elementary school where it's integrated,
and nobody thinks it's odd."
Still, "expectations are exponentially
higher, and pressure is exponentially
higher ... We are less likely to miss
children's needs now than ever before." I
JULY/AUGUST 2019

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The Roanoker - July/August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - July/August 2019

The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Intro
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover1
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover2
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - 3
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - 4
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The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - V1
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The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover3
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