The University of Arkansas at Little Rock College of Education and Health Professions established the Center for Literacy to provide high-quality professional development within the state and advance literacy achievement across the nation.
Dr. Linda Dorn, director of the Center for Literacy and professor of reading education, acknowledged the need for more experienced teachers to assist students struggling with reading and writing.
“Literacy is the driving force behind everything that we do as a society,” Dorn said. “If you’re not successful in literacy, it could have a rippling effect, impacting your economic status, career, and a number of other things.”
Dorn devised a plan that called for a central location where instructors could receive proper literacy education training. As a past president of the Board of Directors for the Reading Recovery Council of North America, an author of seven books and numerous publications, and a keynote speaker presenting at over 300 state, national and international conferences, Dorn was recognized as being highly qualified by her counterparts, resulting in schools and instructors from several states eager to participate in her program.
In 2006, her idea evolved into the Center for Literacy, which now serves schools and educators from 15 states, along with instructors from some of the most prestigious universities in the nation.
Two nationally recognized training models were developed in the center to target obstacles literacy instructors aspire to overcome, providing them with the best tools for classroom success.
The training models include:
Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy — developed to redesign struggling schools by increasing student achievement
K-12 Comprehensive Literacy — designed to provide intervention services for struggling readers
“We are constantly looking for ways to better equip our teachers,” Dorn said. “Ensuring that students with difficulties are successful in literacy will make all the difference in the world.”
To help instructors successfully execute these strategies, trainers with expertise in theory, practice, and research work closely with partnering schools.
External training experts can also engage with the center’s educators using live, web-based training. While professors or instructors teach, experts from across the nation can watch and provide feedback, sharing effective teaching methods.
“The virtual learning experience can increase literacy knowledge and advance the craft of teaching,” Dorn said. “Virtual reality has allowed educators from around the country to experience our training without having to fly into Arkansas.”
With goals to advocate, collaborate, and provide professional development, the Center for Literacy stands as a unique accomplishment to the university and the state.