Equipping every early childhood educator in Georgia to effectively prepare our children to meet or exceed grade level reading requirements by 3rd grade requires contributions from individuals and organizations throughout the community. That’s why it’s so important to spread the word about the critical nature of our mission. This month, we were honored to have another opportunity to showcase our work on a prominent stage as we received Atlanta Magazine’s 2014 Groundbreaker of the Year Award.

The Groundbreaker Awards, sponsored by PNC Bank, highlight initiatives that improve our community, with emphasis on innovation. This year, the focus was on programs centered on education and learning, themed, “Creating a Smarter City.” 11 award winners were chosen based on their contributions to, “making us collectively smarter and serving as examples to their peers.”

As 2014 Groundbreaker of the Year, the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School received the highest honor. The selection committee noted our work in helping lower-income children build the crucial vocabulary  to learn to read and then read to learn by 3rd grade.

The cornerstone of this effort is our Read Right from the Start program. Through free online continuing education courses, the Rollins Center provides teachers research-based strategies to engage children in meaningful conversations, teach and extract language through stories and create interactive classroom learning centers as part of vocabulary and comprehension development. The program currently delivers online courses for preschool and pre-K educators, with courses for infants/toddlers and kindergarten-3rd grade being developed.

Watch this video for a review of the winners. (Hint: the Rollins Center segment starts at 3:09)

Transcript: The Rollins Center for Language & Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School. At the Rollins Center, expert instructors train teachers, giving them tools to help young students who might be at risk for falling behind. Last year, the Rollins Center trained 980 teachers who in turn reached 7600 students. 

(Photo Credit: Atlanta Magazine)