February 20, 2014

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Community Invited to Family Literacy Night at VSU’s Sullivan Literacy Center

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center will host Family Literacy Night: Spring Into Reading from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24. Community families with children in the elementary grades are invited to attend.

“The purpose of Family Literacy Night,” explained Dr. Gina M. Doepker, director of the Sullivan Literacy Center and an associate professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education at VSU, “is to get the children and parents excited about reading through interactive read-alouds and a lot of free literacy materials. If we can get the children excited about reading, then they will want to read more and their skills, confidence, and motivation to read will increase.”

Following an opening ceremony, Family Literacy Night attendees will participate in breakout sessions. In their respective sessions, the children will have fun with books through interactive and engaging comprehension activities, while their parents will gain knowledge regarding how to get their children actively engaged in reading. The evening will conclude with a closing ceremony and “a festive reception with a lot of food, food, food,” Doepker said.

“They should come ready to read, write, listen, and laugh,” she continued. “They will leave with a lot of free literacy materials — books, books, books — great memories, and a full stomach.”

Family Literacy Night is a partnership between the Sullivan Literacy Center and TTL Inc., a 45-plus-year-old company with locations in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, including an office in Valdosta, that provides geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing, analytical laboratory testing, and environmental consultations.

Doepker was contacted by Keith Reaves, vice president and principal engineer for TTL Inc., about forming a community collaboration between his company and VSU’s Sullivan Literacy Center. His son is among the many children who have benefited from the services provided by the literacy center, she said.

“I was thrilled when Mr. Reaves initiated this partnership with the primary goal being to support and serve the community families of Valdosta,” she added. “After much consideration of possible community service projects, the TTL executives and employees voted to host a family literacy night at the Sullivan Literacy Center.

“Family Literacy Night will be an amazing community service event for TTL, the Sullivan Literacy Center, and the community children and their families.”

The Sullivan Literacy Center’s mission is to be an integrated system of care for the children and families of Valdosta and the surrounding area with a focus on building children’s literacy skills, motivation, and confidence. The center now serves children in kindergarten through fifth grade, and programs are currently being developed for prekindergarten, middle school, and high school students, said Doepker.

VSU has had some sort of literacy outreach initiative since 1989.

The Sullivan Literacy Center is located on the first floor of the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services. 

Contact Dr. Gina M. Doepker at gmdoepker@valdosta.edu, (229) 333-5625, or (229) 333-5645 for more information.

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Special Note 

The Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center will host a Scholastic Book Fair from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, through Thursday, Feb. 27; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28. There will be books and other reading materials for kids of all ages.

About the Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center

The Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center offers several programs designed to help children in the elementary grades build literacy skills, gain confidence, and be more motivated to want to read for both pleasure and study:

• Literacy Education Assessment Program (LEAP): This is a literacy tutoring program that involves VSU pre-service teachers assessing the community children’s current literacy skills, developing specific literacy goals, providing one-on-one research-based literacy instruction and intervention, and monitoring the children’s literacy development progress. Students in LITR 4120: Literacy Assessment and Applications work with the children, gaining experience in assessing and planning appropriate literacy remediation. 

• Blazing Through Books Program: This feeder program for LEAP pairs VSU athletes and students with community children in one-on-one and small group literacy skill-building activities, such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Pairs of students from LITR 3110: Emergent Literacy read a book to the children as a group and then lead them through a fun, but educational, lesson related to the story. The purpose of this program is to get the children excited about reading, work on basic literacy skills, and expose the children to different genres.  

• Multidisciplinary Child Advocacy Team (M-CAT): Through this program, any and all departments at VSU, as well as interested community organizations, provide identified services for the community children and families, such as comprehensive assessments, health screenings, family support and therapy, content area tutoring, shadowing opportunities, adult literacy, and much more.

• Dear Blazer Buddy: This is a pen pal program that pairs community children with VSU athletes and students. It is designed to get the children involved in a reading and writing activity that is fun and motivating.

• Blazer Books Television Series: This is a developing program that gives all VSU faculty, staff, and students, as well as area public schools, organizations, and others the opportunity to read and/or recommend their favorite childhood book on camera.

• Reading Enrichment Club (REC) Center: This group was formed for those children who exceed their grade-level reading proficiencies but still want to participate in the program. It focuses on helping them extend their literacy competencies by providing more challenging reading and writing experiences. Participants have worked their way through the Blazing Through Books Program and the Literacy Education Assessment Program (LEAP).

• Blazing LitES: Pairs of students from LITR 3120: Early Literacy lead the children in this focus-guided reading program designed to improve their literacy skills in a way that is meaningful, relevant, and purposeful. Participants receive reading instruction with pre-service teachers in small groups based on their instructional reading level and fluency, word attack, comprehension, vocabulary, and writing strategies.

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities.

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals:

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Goal 5: Develop and enhance Valdosta State’s human and physical resources.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.