November 14, 2014

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center Hosts End-of-Semester Celebration Nov. 19

Dr. Gina M. Doepker, director of the Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center and an associate professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education

VALDOSTA — The Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center at Valdosta State University will host an end-of-semester celebration from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19, in Room 1111 of the Jerry and Kay Jennett Lecture Hall. A pizza reception will follow in the lobby of the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services.

More than 100 families served by the Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center have been invited to attend. The celebration, themed “Be a Reader Leader,” is sponsored by TTL Inc. and will feature a few “reader leaders,” including Miss Georgia Maggie Bridges and VSU’s Blaze, sharing their favorite childhood books and talking about how reading has impacted their lives.

“My goal is to have the children listen to these ‘reader leaders’ and get motivated to want to read, read, read,” said Dr. Gina M. Doepker, literacy center director and associate professor in VSU’s Department of Early Childhood and Special Education. “By building their intrinsic motivation, the children will want to read more, which will ultimately result in higher levels of reading, comprehending, and fluency development. I want these children to see themselves as ‘reader leaders,’ too. Every child will walk away from the event with some literacy-related gifts and hopefully a newfound desire to also become a ‘reader leader.’” 

The Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center’s mission is to be an integrated system of care for the children and families of Valdosta and surrounding areas with a focus on building children’s literacy skills, motivation, and confidence. The center now serves children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

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:

Blazing LitES: During the spring semester, 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.

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. During the fall semester, 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.

Reading is RAD! (Radiant, Aromatic, Delicious): Pairs of students from LITR 3110: Emergent Literacy work with all of the children in the Blazing Through Books program during the fall semesters. They specifically promote reading through small group interactive read-alouds, comprehension-building strategies, and extension activities, such as writing, drama, art, music, and so on. 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 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).

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

The Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center is located on the first floor of the Dewar College of Education and Human Services.

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

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 work accomplished by the Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center meets 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 to learn more.