One of my visions as President of MID-State Reading Council is to branch out to our members, including educators and parents that may not know about our organization. For the past two years as President-Elect and Vice President of MID-State, I have thought about ways to spread literacy further. I suggested we reach out to our community in order to partner with other organizations that are just as passionate as we are about literacy. Our council wanted to reach a larger audience with administrators, content area teachers, and families. Our fall event focused a hot topic in our area: RtI. Our spring event focused on families and creating a home/school connection. We were pleased with both programs we organized, but our Summer Conference was when we really saw what we could do when we branched out to others.
We brought in author/educator, Kelly Gallagher, to speak at our Summer Conference. We met with the Regional Office of Education to co-sponsor our event and began publicizing within our school districts. We worked with these professionals to spread the word. As a result, our Summer Conference was more successful than we could imagine. We had the audience we wanted - administrators, content area teachers, reading specialists, new and pre-service teachers, secondary and elementary literacy coaches, and of course reading and writing teachers. Our membership increased 44% from that conference - but we did not do that individually. I thank Kelly Gallagher for not only agreeing to speak at our conference that day, but also for sending such an important message to the people that attended. I thank the ROE for supporting our mission of professional development, and I thank all of the school districts that partnered with us to send teachers from their buildings.
This year, we plan to invite book and wine lovers out to our "Wine-A-Read?" social at 6:00 pm on September 20, 2012 at White Oak Winery in Carlock, IL featuring book talks from local professionals. We hope to branch out to educators in a fun and relaxing environment. Please consider joining us!
We are working on other events that will focus on hot topics in education including Common Core and Informational Texts. In addition, we will be hosting local families in providing books for Habitat for Humanity, having a Carnival of Reading in the fall and Family Literacy Night in the spring.
Moving forward, it is important to me to continue this theme of "branching out" to others within the schools and community.
Why keep a good thing to yourself?
Therefore, we created a t-shirt design that included the nouns and verbs that identify MID-State's mission and vision in the form of a tree to represent how we plan to branch out and spread literacy to others. I believe partnerships are empowering and help us grow in our endeavors.