Warner Faculty Members Participate in Mayor's Summit on Literacy

Two Warner faculty members recently participated in, and ScienceStart! was highlighted at, Mayor Robert Duffy’s Leadership Summit on Literacy, November 28—29, at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. Joanne Larson, Michael W. Scandling Professor of Education and chair of the teaching and curriculum program, and Susan Hetherington, assistant professor in teaching and curriculum, were among the local and national literacy experts participating in the Summit.

As a member of the Mayor’s panel, Larson contributed to the discussion on compelling issues that are shaping the destiny of the Rochester community and shared ideas about how to understand literacy teaching and learning. Larson led a twenty-minute session, “Literacy—Beyond the Basics,” on November 28 in which she articulated different ways to think about literacy. She argued that a narrow focus on so-called “basic skills” will not address the literacy problems articulated by the Mayor. She provided examples of literacy learning activities that will teach the kind of literacy practices needed in today’s world.

A member of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Literacy since March 2006, Hetherington was actively involved in planning the Mayor’s Summit, as well as identifying community literacy needs and identifying and acknowledging the local promising practices.

In addition to faculty involvement, the Warner School’s science-based preschool curriculum project, ScienceStart!, was one of the twelve local promising practices featured at the Summit. ScienceStart!, developed by Lucia French, Earl B. Taylor Professor of Education and Human Development, and Kathy Conezio, Warner doctoral student and research associate, was recognized as an experiential/applied learning program. ScienceStart! capitalizes on children’s natural curiosity about the world around them, and uses science as a vehicle to develop language, literacy, and school readiness skills among preschoolers.

The Mayor’s Leadership Summit on Literacy attracted nearly 200 community leaders and national experts for a two-day discussion on improving literacy in Rochester. The invitation-only Summit was the vital first step in supporting the Mayor’s goal of formulating a community-wide action plan to promote awareness and involvement in advancing literacy, as well as identifying and developing partnerships to enhance local literacy programs.

Tags: Joanne Larson, Kathy Conezio, literacy, Lucia French, ScienceStart!, Susan Hetherington