City Leaders Join National Reading Drive To Showcase Hartford’s Early Childhood Education Plan

(Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015) About 70 leaders in education, philanthropy, public service and the arts fanned out to classrooms in every Hartford elementary school this morning to read the same book to the city’s 1,600 1st grade students.
The book, “Not Norman,” was also read to about 2 million children nationwide, as part of the Tenth Annual Jumpstart Read for the Record Campaign.
Hartford’s celebrity readers included City Councilman Joel Cruz, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, NBC Connecticut Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan, Channel 3 News Anchor Irene O’Connor, Attorney Jeffrey Dressler, and many volunteers from UTC, United Way of Northeastern and Central Connecticut, Hartford Public Schools, and more.
“I am thrilled to have our families and so many partners working with the Hartford Public Schools to develop a love of reading in our children,” Dr. Narvaez said. “The continued work that we must engage in to ensure all of our children are reading at grade level by third grade is so important. By reading to our youth today we teach them that we care and that, above all, reading is fun!”
Jumpstart is a national early education organization that recruits thousands of volunteers to help preschool children in low income neighborhoods develop the language and literacy skills they need to succeed academically. The Read for the Record Campaign was designed to raise awareness of the early education achievement gap and to encourage families to help close the gap by reading to their children.
Read for the Record is particularly relevant to Hartford because it helps highlight Superintendent Narvaez’s early childhood education initiative – The New K-2 Literacy Curriculum — Developed in partnership with teachers and principals, the curriculum features an interdisciplinary approach across the instructional areas of  reading, writing, science (Next Generation Science Standards) social studies (C3 Standards of College, Career, and Civic Life.)
The curriculum is designed to meet the developmental needs of early readers using two approaches in particular: An in-depth foundational skills component aimed at teaching students concepts of print, letter and sound recognition (phonics), and other basic grammar and conventions, such as punctuation, and a balanced literacy approach aimed at using foundational skills – putting letters and words together – to access and comprehend texts.
Students are exposed to “culturally-responsive” literature and texts that increase in complexity throughout the year using a variety of genres, including prose and poetry, and instructional strategies that increase student participation and discussion are at the heart of the curriculum.
Hartford’s reading event was organized by Dee Cole, the district’s Executive Director of Early Literacy, in partnership with United Way of Northeastern and Central Connecticut. Celebrity readers began their morning by gathering at 8:00 a.m. at the Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts at 65 Van Block Avenue in Hartford.  The school entertained the readers with two magnificent student performances.
The book was read between 10:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. in every one of the city’s elementary schools.

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