Flint Community Schools is raising its literacy mission to a level beyond classroom lessons.
Adding their talents and energy to the efforts of local teachers are central office employees who’ve launched a new program that combines reading with mentoring.
Sixty first graders have begun meeting with Flint Community Schools central office team members for CONNECT (Central Office Navigating, Nurturing, Engaging Children’s Talents). The initiative was established in memory of Dr. Jim Taylor, former consultant to Michigan State University’s College of Education’s Office of K-12 Outreach.
Taylor was a mentor to Flint Community Schools Superintendent Bilal Tawwab, who is excited to share the seed of inspiration Taylor planted in him.
“Dr. Taylor instilled in me the value of a powerful mentor, a value that will now be shared with 60 of our youngest learners,” Tawwab says. “I believe the CONNECT program will serve to accelerate student literacy while honoring the passion and values most dear to Dr. Taylor.”
Through June, CONNECT will pair 40 central office staff with first graders once a week to read a book and reflect on it in a journal. By the end of the program each student will have read 25 new books, adding them to their personal libraries, coordinators of the initiative say.
Along with the superintendent, other participants include Pamela Mosher, supervisor of literacy and numeracy, Ernest Steward, parent and student services director, Mike Maienbrook, community sports director, Jamie Foster, athletic director, and Keiona Murphy, director of centralized employment.
Taylor’s passions for youth, mentoring and education were reflected in a request for donations to The Jim Taylor Memorial Fund for the Children of Flint at the time of his death. Tawwab used the donations to buy books for the new program.
The district plans to eventually expand CONNECT through the support of community volunteers who would interact with students.