By Keith Lyons
Communications, Marketing and Promotions Director
Collaborative Center for Literacy Development Communications
While trainings are underway this summer, professional development opportunities have already been in full speed the past year. In fact, this past spring, a significant culmination for 31 local educators happened in a remarkable setting filled with conscientious teachers and para-educators. Wayne County teachers had participated in a yearlong professional development opportunity offered through the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD).
A significant contingency of Wayne County and Pulaski County educators embarked on this journey last May 2017 to engage in an intensive, high quality professional learning experience. Cadres of early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school professionals represented their respective districts and buildings in this unique opportunity. The initiatives, Early Childhood Reading Project, Kentucky Reading Project, and Adolescent Literacy Project, began in the summer with intensive institutes included daily learning, sharing, and practicing. Multiple follow-up sessions and coaching visits continued the professional experiences throughout the year. The official learning and implementation phase of the initiatives ended April 21st with the statewide CCLD Share Fair held in Louisville, Kentucky.
Recently, we seem to be in a time when educators are facing a wave of challenges to their profession, dedication, and retirement, as well as direct attacks on their character. This group of Wayne and Pulaski County teachers are an incredible example of the real people that serve our children, families, and communities, providing a more realistic portrait of educators. As soon as the school year ended last May, a large number of teachers, staff, and administrators kicked off their CCLD-led initiative training. They convened in classrooms and libraries at Walker Early Learning Center, Bell Elementary, and Wayne County High School, sitting in the same seats as their students do throughout the year, to dig into performance data, literacy instruction, and research. The intent of the summer institutes was to focus on targeted needs so each participant could engage in tailored learning experiences that would aid in their ultimate goal – fostering student achievement through high quality teaching.
One of the initial activities that participants engaged in was a self-reflection that enabled them to hone in on their lives and home communities. The poem, “Where I’m From” by recent Kentucky poet laureate George Ella Lyon, was shared with a couple of the groups. The poem depicts the memories of the author. The local educators were invited to then pen their own few lined poems to portray their own emotions and experiences that led them to their current stations in life. The initiative directors took each poem and pulled lines from them to create a group original. The result was a compilation of individual stanzas that weaved together to produce a bigger reflection of the community these dedicated education professionals reside and work in – your community. Reading these poems out loud to the respective groups evoked a lot of emotions and memories that were welcoming, especially to me. [You may view the original Lyon poem and the Early Childhood and Kentucky Reading Projects personalized versions at the end of this article.]
The poem experience provided an open window into the hearts and minds of the educators and into the soul of the Wayne County (and Pulaski County) community for the author of this article. I was able to experience the very fabric pieces of each individual that decided to join our initiative, becoming a patchwork community of dedicated individuals who were seeking to enhance the learning experiences of each child they encounter on a daily basis. As the journey continued through the year for each of the cadres, the windows and doors opened wider, and the bonds grew stronger – similar to the roots mentioned in some of the participants personal poems.
The participating educators’ culminating moment arrived when they were able to share their hard work with a much larger network of teachers. On April 21st, nearly 530 educators from across the state joined in Louisville to share their learning and celebrate the accomplishments of the respective initiatives. Thirteen sessions represented the literacy plans of 48 Wayne and 5 Pulaski educators who shone brightly. Every presentation by your local educators depicted their knowledge, passion, dedication, and innovation. They exhibited amazing confidence, as reported by many literacy faculty and professionals who observed them in action at the event. A number of presenters, YOUR local teachers, have been tapped to present at state and national levels on their work they conducted over this past year.
Though the official current initiatives are finished, the impact is hopefully just beginning. The potential exists to expand on the work already accomplished in this next year. I am so very proud of the work the teachers have accomplished as individuals and as a collective group. As an individual who was permitted to meet and get to know your educators, I am overwhelmed by their commitment and passion. The barrage of negativity that has permeated the conversations in education the past year can and should be silenced by the incredible positive accounts of professionalism, growth, and personalities of your local heroes – the teaching staff of your local community. Wayne County is on the move, and your district leadership and amazing staff are blazing the trails.
Where I'm From
by George Ella Lyon
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
I'm from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I'm from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.
I'm from Artemus and Billie's Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments--
snapped before I budded --
leaf-fall from the family tree.
Where I am From?
Early Childhood KRP Participants
Walker Early Learning Center
I’m from backwoods and city streets.
I am from a small house where love surrounds me.
Our house was always noisy. I remember running feet, playing hide-go-seek, dolls and mom taught all the girls how to twirl a baton.
I’m from the country where the sun rises up over the mountain in early morning.
Hollers, deeply rutted roads that bottom out your car.
I am from the coal dust coated mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I am from the cool creek waters on a hot sticky day.
Old country stores where the floor would creek when you walked on it.
I am from the refreshing bubbly coolness of a Pepsi.
I am from ice tea with lemon.
I am from a post office and general store in the front yard.
I am from apple picking, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and four-wheeler riding.
On early mornings stringing beans to washing jars, and slapping bugs as you go.
I am from Granny’s cornbread on a hot stove in a tiny kitchen.
I’m from hard work and sacrifice.
I’m from bondage to freedom.
I am from summer-breeze dried clothes and warm garden dirt in my toes.
I am from a happy, energizing, and restorative dance class.
I’m from magnolias and mudpies, skipping rocks, and skinned knees.
Families that live within walking distance.
Where my great grandfather carried my mother on his shoulders with a squeak in his shoes.
I come from a dirt farm where everybody did their part, from sun up till sun down.
His sun is bright in the morning sky.
His grass is green on the freshly mown lawn.
Her garden is lush and full of food for thought and the belly.
I’m from Sunday morning church bells and Granny Geraldine’s hugs.
I’m from a quiet church till the preacher got loud with his message.
I grew to love the city sounds. I grew to love the closeness of your neighbors around.
From houses built so close together that if you needed a cup of sugar and to borrow it from your neighbor with the simple raising of each window and passing it across to one another.
From cool evenings eating homemade pumpkin pies, from short winter days playing in cold drifts of snow, from hot spring waiting on school to end.
I am from thick white fluffy biscuits covered in warm, sweet fresh honey from the hive.
I am from a town where everyone knows each other and a southern accent is a must.
I love the sounds you hear outside at night, the birds singing, the frogs hollowing, warm blowing in your face, looking up at the beautiful stars.
I am from the love of all things southern.
Where I am From?
Bell & Monticello Elementary
I am from tractors, mud between my toes, and tobacco hanging in the barn.
I am from long hours in the combine thrashing corn or soybeans.
Lightning bugs in caged jars. Long nights under the stars.
I am from riding in the back of my Daddy’s truck through the fields and over the hills to the creek where we skipped rocks.
I am from campfires blazing, chlorine, and fans.
I am from a cold concrete floor with the door opening to the smell of grease, diesel, and more.
I am from “tickle my back, Granny” and “let me catch you cigarette ashes, Papa.”
I am from a place where Mom and Dad give lots of hugs and make homemade hand-cranked ice cream.
I am from stray dogs and cats, who become forever pets.
I am from playing in the mud, and plucking dandelions and 4-leaf clovers.
From Saturday morning cartoons.
I am from a hot summer day climbing trees and a barn.
From eating and drinking purple grape Kool-aid in a silver metal glass.
The butterflies danced among the flowers as I splashed, splashed in the pool.
I am from the smell of fresh cut hay and manure being spread in the fields.
Touch the hair off a cow’s back.
Taste the hamburger with all the toppings.
Growing up, I could taste the cool drink of a Ski, the crunchy-crunch of a bag of chips, and roasted marshmallows.
Berries are ripe and ready for wine
While bees make honey, which is oh so fine.
You can taste juicy, sweet peaches, homemade sun tea, Kool-aid and cookies, and BBQ chicken.
I am found in woods with dirt trails.
I am happiest sitting on the front porch with my family.
I am from flowers, people, and soft music.
I am from homemade chicken and dumplings, soap operas at noon.
I am from the family you see and hear coming.
I am from the family who doesn’t stop.
We wear our read, white, and blue and fly our flag with pride.
I am from late night giggles with cousins.
I am from huddling together in a musty basement as the storm passes by.
From hugs from Great Grandma.
I am from a bloodline of determined men and women.
I am from tobacco barns with UK games on the radio.
I am from back seat pews and Bible quizzes, long nights at revivals, loud preachers, and old smelly hymnals.
I am from hearing Grandma sing gospel songs, Papaw playing the banjo.
Having a close knit family, and always remembering
Where I come from.
Teachers from Wayne County Schools with instructors from the Share Fair
Teachers from Walker Early Learning Center
Teachers from Bell Elementary
(Standing, L-R) Walker Early Learning Center teachers Micah Hicks, Stacy Corder, and Beth Corder spoke about learning vocabulary through music
Bell Elementary educator Bobbie Barrier (bottom right) spoke to a literacy instructor (top left), Bell Elementary Principal Derrick Harris (center) and teacher Renee Kennett (right)
(L-R) Bell Elementary Teachers Mindy Bell, Sasha Chaplin, and Megan McCutchin were proud of their presentation on vocabulary
Walker Early Learning Center teachers (l-r standing) Beth Corder and Yvonne Morgan listened to a presentation amongst other attendees
Walker Early Learning Center teacher Moddie Miller (center) discusses teacher practices with other educators
Helen Duncan (standing left) and Jenny Jenkins (standing right) presented with the support of paraeducator Lisa Jones (far left) and lead teacher Sharlene Prince (second from left)
Sharon Lowe and Shannon Shelton