|Contact:||Roberta Smith, 277-1998 or
Laurie Mellas-Ramirez, 277-5915
April 27, 2001
UNM AND APS CELEBRATE SUCCESS OF 'SECONDARY SCHOOLS LITERACY PROJECT' MAY
University of New Mexico College of Education (COE) and Albuquerque Public Schools
(APS) will celebrate the first year of a successful program that provides professional
development in literacy for mid- and high school teachers.
A reception to honor donors and demonstrate the project's success will be held
Tuesday, May 1, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Sandia High School Media Center, 7801
The "Secondary Schools Literacy Project (SSLP)," initially funded
through a $100,000 challenge grant from Wells Fargo Bank, is designed to provide
teachers with specialized assistance through professional development workshops
to help students at the secondary school level who did not obtain sufficient
reading/writing skills in the lower grades.
"This program is right up our alley. It touches on two of our highest
community priorities - economic development and education," says Larry
D. Willard, CEO and Regional President of Wells Fargo Bank New Mexico and West
Texas. "With dedicated teachers working on strong programs like the SSLP,
the impact of literacy on education and jobs in our community cannot be understated.
That's good for all of us, but we're especially glad to be reaching youth who
might otherwise miss out."
The project has far exceeded expectations with more than 108 teachers participating at 38 schools -- a 27 percent higher school participation rate than projected in the original proposal.
Currently, the SSLP is reaching 10 of the 11 high schools, 21 of the 25 middle
schools and seven of the nine alternative high schools in Albuquerque. Each
of the schools has one or two "literacy leaders" who facilitate study/literacy
groups. Two-thirds of the schools have active literacy groups consisting of
at least five teachers who meet monthly. The teachers, from across disciplines,
discuss strategies on how to reach non/poor readers in their classes as well
as how to teach reading in specific content areas, such as social studies, math,
language, etc. The study groups offer a place to share information and receive
feedback, with the overall goal to improve teaching skills. About half the teachers
took part in a SSLP weeklong Summer Institute held last year as part of the
project. The teachers involved interact with an average of 120 students per
"More than 12,000 students are impacted by the work of this initiative
everyday," says Dr. Roberta Smith, director of the UNM COE Professional
Development Collaborative. "These numbers are a strong indicator that middle
and high school teachers have interest in not only participating in study groups
to improve their ability to teach 'reading to learn' strategies, but also in
meeting the specific content understanding needs of their students."
"It is evident that the Secondary Literacy Leaders Project is flourishing
in the Albuquerque Public Schools. The teachers in the project are bringing
about change; they are infusing improved literacy throughout the district,"
"The SSLP has filled a huge void for many secondary teachers," says
Dr. Beth Everitt, APS SSLP administrator. "Teachers tell me it is the first
support they have experienced that directly related to their classroom challenges."
The project has also been successful in merging public and private resources
in creative and effective ways. In response to the $100,000 challenge grant
from Wells Fargo Bank, APS and the APS Foundation have provided diverse support,
ranging from filling a new administrative position with someone to oversee the
project to funding for professional development workshops and release time for
teachers to participate. Other matching funds were acquired from the Sandia
Foundation, U S WEST/Qwest, and Duffy & Jean Ann Swan. These additional
funds were obtained through the efforts of the UNM Foundation, as well as the
COE Development Office and Professional Development Collaborative.
"I am very pleased with the far-reaching success of the first year of the SSLP project," says Viola E. Florez, UNM COE dean.
"This partnership between APS, UNM, the private sector, and local philanthropies,
represents the latest evidence of the power of collaborations to solve problems
in education. By addressing the issue of secondary-level literacy education,
the initiative focuses resources and talent on an area of very high need. This
is great news for public education in New Mexico, because no students should
be allowed to 'fall between the cracks'."
In addition to donors and project administrators, several hundred APS teachers and program participants are expected to attend the May 1st celebration. ###
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of New Mexico
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