As a CLI literacy interventionist in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for the past 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of working side by side with many young children who have benefited from extra literacy instruction and TLC. I have realized that I can only work for an organization that actively pursues liberatory educational practices that empower Black and Latinx children to their full potentials. That’s why working at Children’s Literacy Initiative is the perfect organization for me.
Shawn* is one story that comes to mind when I think of the importance of asset-based, liberatory educational practices. Shawn began school with some major health struggles that affected his early literacy development. Although Shawn was engaging and a great storyteller, he didn’t see himself as a reader or a writer. I knew that we could find a way to work with Shawn’s strengths and help him see reading as a joyous activity. Rather than emphasizing what was holding him back, reading could be an act of liberation for Shawn.
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So, my plan was to meet him where he was at. He told me stories as I wrote them out. We read and reread them together, and made sure that others read his stories, too. Over time, Shawn became more interested in how his stories worked on paper. Shawn began to realize the purpose of reading and writing and that he had something to contribute to others. This was my opening to teach him the tools – the nuts and bolts – he needed to continue to read and write his own stories and those of others’. Fast-forward, Shawn is now a thriving 5th grader who sees himself as a learner and is willing to take risks to continue his learning pursuits.
I am grateful to be a part of CLI’s mission that prioritizes helping Black and Latinx children personalize their learning by seeing themselves in their learning journeys and that they have much of value to contribute to our community! If this story reminds you of someone you love or your experience in school, I hope you consider supporting the Chicago campaign. I can tell you firsthand how much having an interventionist in the classroom affirms and supports children. I hope you consider making a gift today!
Written by: Sharon Lyons
Literacy Interventionist, Chicago
*Name has been changed to protect privacy of our students
Transforming Early Literacy in Chicago
As a national nonprofit advancing large-scale impact, CLI is uniquely poised to amplify literacy outcomes for Black and Latinx children across Chicago public schools. Learn more about Children's Literacy Initiative's work in Chicago.