When it comes to setting our next generation up for academic success, it truly takes a village. With current statistics indicating that less than 40% of third-grade children read at grade level, and 75% of children who fall behind by the age of nine experience lifelong reading difficulties, it is vital that we work together to find solutions for young learners in our community.
Fortunately, the Hobbs Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has formed a coalition of community partners who are committed to ensuring early school success by addressing experiences holistically and focusing on community-driven initiatives to help children and families. The JF Maddox Foundation has partnered with stakeholders from the Hobbs Municipal School District, the City of Hobbs, United Way of Lea County, Literacy Coalition of the Permian Basin, University of the Southwest, New Mexico Junior College, Nor-Lea Hobbs Medical Clinic, Hobbs Public Library, and others, to come together to give our youth tools to increase academic achievement and improve their literacy rates.
One tool that is an indicator of grade-level reading success is regular school attendance. September was attendance awareness month, and since educators have seen student absences double since the beginning of the pandemic, efforts to increase attendance at our local schools are needed now more than ever. Hobbs Municipal Schools held class contests for students to encourage daily attendance and Broadmoor and Will Rogers Elementary Schools launched a “Heroes of Attendance” campaign where parades and assemblies were held to engage with students and build excitement surrounding the benefits of school attendance. Additionally, the elementary schools collaborated with the local high school football team to involve players in the campaign and give them the opportunity to encourage younger students to make attendance a priority.
The Hobbs Campaign for Grade-Level Reading coalition has also taken to social media to provide additional resources for parents. Themes have been established for each weekday where valuable content is shared that is tied to the theme of the day. On a recent “Toolkit Tuesday,” the coalition shared questions that parents can ask their child’s teacher during parent-teacher conferences to gain insight into their child’s progress and help build a relationship with the teacher. “We Read Wednesday” encourages parents to read to their children and offers book suggestions, while “Fact Friday” shares statistics and information that drives home the importance of literacy initiatives. “Motivated Monday” and “Thinking Thursday” round out the social media themes. The coalition also aims to encourage families to take advantage of resources offered by local community partners such as the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and the Hobbs Public Library.
Vice President of Grants at the JF Maddox Foundation, Mayra Lovas, said, “While our overarching goal is to have 80% of children reading on grade level by third grade, we realize this does not happen overnight. It takes a whole community, and we are grateful to create partnerships between schools, families, early educators, and the community at large to better support our students.”
To learn more about the Hobbs Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, email email@example.com or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HobbsCampaignforGradeLevelReading.
Elizabeth Wieser is the Early Literacy Project Manager for the Hobbs Campaign for Grade Level Reading, a project of the JF Maddox Foundation. With a goal to have 80% of Hobbs children reading at grade level by end of third grade, the Campaign for Grade Level Reading will focus on early childhood experiences, engaging community partners, and educating families, to inspire young readers throughout the community.