Georgia LitLink was the state’s first literacy conference dedicated to classroom teachers. The teacher-facing conference was cohosted by the Georgia Department of Education and the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy, a program of the Atlanta Speech School.

Founded to break the cycle of illiteracy for children who have experienced a generational lack of access to educational opportunity, the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy is dedicated to deep reading brain construction for every child through facilitation and coaching in regional schools and, on a global scale, through the free online Cox Campus.

Held at the Gas South Convention Center in Duluth, GA in June 2024, the conference was the start of a yearlong journey through which teachers representing Georgia’s 181 districts and state charter districts learn as key change agents in Georgia’s statewide literacy effort.

Top scholars and experts from across the nation joined side-by-side with Georgia’s teachers to share how the science of reading supports effective literacy practices that shape the first day and every day of the school year. Teachers are the critical catalysts connecting the statewide effort to ensure all Georgia’s children are taught to read. As they reach and teach each child, they are working toward more than reading proficiency. They are connecting children to who they will become and helping them decide their own futures.

Dr. Ryan Lee-James/Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School

Dr. Ryan Lee-James is a speech-language pathologist, researcher, and published author with expertise in language development, language disorders, and literacy in the context of linguistic differences and socioeconomic disadvantage. She currently serves as the Chief Academic Officer and Director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School.

Before joining the Speech School team, she had the privilege of training and mentoring graduate level speech-language pathologists as a member of the Communication Sciences and Disorders faculty at Adelphi University in New York. Dr. Lee-James serves as the Vice President of Speech-Language Language Pathology for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and also serves on other national and local boards to realize liberation through language and literacy for all children.

Dr. Margie Gillis/Literacy How

Margie Gillis is a nationally recognized literacy expert and a Certified Academic Language Therapist who has been teaching children of all ages to read for over 40 years. She received her Doctorate of Education from the University of Louisville in Special Education. Margie has worked at the policy level through the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE). She was instrumental in Connecticut’s adoption of a universal screening test for K-3 students, implementing the Connecticut Foundations of Reading Test as part of the certification process for pre-service teachers, and is a member of the Connecticut K-4 Reading Model management team.

In 2009, Margie founded Literacy How to provide professional development opportunities and coaching for teachers on how best to implement evidence-based reading practices in the classroom. Their vision is to close the opportunity gap and raise reading achievement for all students. They transform reading instruction by empowering teachers to ensure that every child learns to read by third grade. They teach educators in all grades to meet emerging and struggling readers where they are, building their foundation for a successful future.

95% of students can learn to read. However, only 35% of students read on grade level. Many teachers don’t learn about the science of reading and its application in their preparation programs, both pre-service and post-graduate. Through training, coaching, and mentoring, every teacher working with Literacy How is given the knowledge and skills needed to teach children to read, write, and spell. Their model is research-based and their approach is values-driven.

This work has been made possible by the support of local and national foundations committed to literacy and justice for all. Cox Campus provides language and literacy resources to 280,000 members across all 50 states and in more than 80 countries globally at no cost.  Cox Campus has delivered more than $82 million worth of professional learning coursework – completely free. 

Literacy and Justice for ALL