Lee Pesky Learning Center started off the new year with a resolution—to provide year-round literacy support to elementary-aged English Learners in the Vallivue School District. What began as a goal, turned into reality thanks to a $40,000 grant recently received from Silver Family Foundation (SFF).
LPLC—an education nonprofit headquartered in Boise, Idaho—serves individuals, families, schools, and our community through a three-tier service delivery model: educator training, literacy pods for English learners, and intensive intervention. LPLC provides thousands of hours of individualized academic and clinical intervention to students and trains close to 1,000 early childhood educators each year.
LPLC’s Literacy Pods concept initially began as a summer pilot program in Blaine County in 2020 as a response to the education opportunity gap widening as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now in its fourth year, LPLC’s Literacy Pods have extended their reach to the Vallivue School District. Monies provided by the Silver Family Foundation will specifically support the need for ongoing year-round support of English learners in the 2024-2025 school year.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 80% of Idaho’s population is non-Hispanic, Caucasian. Treasure Valley, however, is more diverse with 60% of its population identifying as non-Hispanic Caucasian and 20% identifying as Hispanic. Additionally, according to 2019 state data, a 30-plus percentage point difference exists between Latinx students meeting grade level reading targets and students who are White.
Planning is well underway for the new academic year program poised to launch in Vallivue fall of 2024. The partnership will be further enriched by the College of Idaho who will be supporting efforts by providing college-level reading interns.
According to Education Assistant Professor at the College of Idaho, Dr. Sally Brown, “This is an excellent opportunity for College of Idaho interns who have received training in delivering evidence-based instruction. Not only does this hands-on experience benefit the interns as they refine their teaching skills, but it also contributes to better academic outcomes for the young students in this program, as literacy can literally change the trajectory of a child’s life.”
In 2022, a mere 32% of Idaho’s fourth graders were deemed as reading at a level of proficient or above, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (or NAEP). Additionally, Idaho’s reading levels declined between 2019 – 2022.
LPLC’s Literacy Pods Director Jahziel Hawley-Maldonado shares, “In the past couple of years, the Literacy Pods program has impacted many young learners and their families in their journey to overcome obstacles to learning. One of our current students—a third grader whose native language is Swahili—began the program with no English language skills. Now, he can read CVC words and better understands the relationship between letters and sounds. Playing a small part in his growth and progress is an honor.”
With supports such as those that LPLC is providing, the goal is to create pathways to learning for everyone and move the needle forward by turning learning obstacles into opportunities for growth. In the words of Dr. Sally Brown, “If we want to increase equity in our community, we need to teach every child to read. That is part of our responsibility.”
Pictured: A student in the 2023 summer Literacy Pods program in Vallivue works with his tutor.