About 40 teacher candidates from Dr. Vickie Johnston’s “Professional Teaching Practice” class delivered lessons in literacy to parents and children in the Golden Gate community on Nov. 14 during the Family Literacy Festival at Grace Place. The FGCU students used books, games, storytelling and arts and crafts to engage dozens of families that attended the event.
Grace Place for Children and Families is a nonprofit education center whose mission is to put faith into action – providing pathways out of poverty by educating children and families in Golden Gate. Working across the life spectrum, Grace Place currently enrolls more than 800 individuals in its educational programs: the nationally recognized Bright Beginnings program, two School Age programs and an Adult Education program.
Grace Place was listed as a program provider in 2012 for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and is a vital outreach for parents and students in the Golden Gate community. Although education is the core focus of the organization and its mission, Grace Place’s Friday Food Pantry also serves more than 2,000 families a year.
The monthly Literacy Festival was designed by Grace Place to reach out to children and parents in the community and also provide an opportunity for FGCU teacher candidates to deliver interactive, hands-on reading lessons.
The College of Education students worked in small groups to create a welcoming environment in order to connect with the children and to help parents feel comfortable engaging in their children’s education. About 45 families turned out for this event and rotated through 13 different stations where FGCU students provided vocabulary instruction, read-alouds, storytelling, writing and hands-on craft activities. The students also created and distributed pamphlets and fliers encouraging parents to read to their children, and Grace Place provided free books for families to take home following the event.
“The Literacy Festival was a valuable learning experience for both the teacher candidates and the families from Grace Place,” Johnston said. “For most of the teacher candidates, it was a day that not only inspired them but also reminded them that being a teacher can truly make a difference in a local community.”