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A new University of Wisconsin Oshkosh endeavor will strengthen children’s reading and writing education in northeast Wisconsin and beyond.

The Center for Literacy Educators and Leaders offers a range of services to Wisconsin schools and school districts. The goal is to enhance the knowledge, skills and perspectives of PK-12 teachers to better prepare students with literacy skills necessary for success in school, in future careers and in their communities. Additionally, the Center will help school and school district leaders to develop and lead effective programs of literacy instruction.

The Center for Literacy Educators and Leaders, launched by the UW Oshkosh Leadership, Literacy and Social Foundations department, will be the go-to for Wisconsin educators seeking professional development in literacy, for administrators seeking to strengthen curricula and instruction and for teachers who want licensure as reading teachers or reading specialists through traditional or innovative paths.

These new professional development and consultation opportunities, plus the already established graduate literacy programs, will make the Center a “one-stop place for any sort of literacy help that any public or private PK-12 school might seek,” said Cathy Toll, the Center’s director and the literacy graduate program coordinator at UWO.

Cathy Toll

The Center serves as an umbrella for the services provided by the literacy faculty and staff, considered among the strongest in the state, Toll said. These services have always been available to some extent to help if a school or district came calling, but now the offerings to K-12 educators are expanded and more visible. Based upon assessments of regional needs, the Center will focus in particular upon four areas: writing instruction, reading intervention, culturally responsive literacy instruction and literacy leadership.

“We want to be able to have schools in the region and especially throughout the state, to benefit from the strength of the people who are right here in their neighborhood,” Toll said.

Representatives from local school districts are invited to a virtual launch of the Center from 9 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The presentation will include an overview of the Center and how it can benefit schools and districts, a listening session about the needs of educators and administrators, and quick summaries of research and practice in the Center’s priority areas.

Another way the Leadership, Literacy and Social Foundations department reaches teachers, librarians and administrators is through the annual Children’s Literature Conference. Because of pandemic uncertainties, this year’s conference in November will be held virtually and will feature Laurie Halse Anderson, Kyle Lukoff and a third yet-to-be-named author.

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