Dalton State School of Education Takes Literacy Program to Community



Dalton State’s School of Education is spending a portion of the summer reading to children and leading literacy-related activities with them. 

Dr. Sharon Hixon, dean of the School of Education, and education students from the College go to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Seamless Summer Nutrition Program sites to work with children under 18 on reading and other activities. The School of Education adopted two feeding sites through Readers to Leaders. Readers to Leaders adopted 12 of the Whitfield County School System’s 35 sites as Power Lunch sites, where free age-appropriate books are distributed.

“We hope we instill a love of reading in these children,” Hixon said. “We invite the children to take a free book, read with us, and do activities with us that relate back to the book we’ve read.”

One week Hixon read “Martina the Beautiful Cockroach” by Carmen Agra Deedy – about a cockroach choosing a husband by using the “coffee test.” Then children could paint animals appearing in the book using coffee. Hixon interacted with them, asking questions about the book to promote comprehension and understanding.

Another week a book about Navajo Indians was read and children had the chance to do sand paintings.

“We always do educational activities with them, and we keep it geared toward improving literacy,” Hixon said. “One week they were playing with sidewalk chalk, and I would say things like ‘Draw something that begins with the letter B or the b-sound.’

“It helps them beat the summer slump that sometimes happens when they’re out of school.” 

In addition to helping children in the community, the project is benefiting students who are studying education at the College by giving them an opportunity to work one-on-one or in small groups with children before beginning their student teaching.

“It is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in an informal setting,” said Hunter Spence, a sophomore at Dalton State who is majoring in biology with secondary certification. “I’m getting to know the children and the communities they live in, as well as how their minds develop. I love seeing that light come on when they make a connection while learning.”