TLA News

Moonshot Moment-um: Pride in early literacy progress

March 10, 2022

The Moonshot Community Action Network, led by the Learning Alliance in partnership with the School District of Indian River County, recently launched its 2022 Moonshot Moment Campaign, “Faces of Early Literacy: Today’s Readers are Tomorrow’s Leaders.”

Reminiscent of the “Help Me Read: Faces” campaign that launched in 2013, the project again features large black-and-white posters of local children as a way to generate conversations about literacy. The collaborative Moonshot goal is to have 90 percent of students reading at grade level by third grade; ultimately fashioning our county as one of the nation’s leading literacy capitals.

“As you came in here, you saw those beautiful posters. Each one of these children has a story,” said School Board member Peggy Jones to nearly 100 community leaders. “As we reinvigorate this campaign, I think one thing we’re going to talk about quite a bit is, it takes all of us. Each and every one of us. We want the children’s stories to be stories of success. And those stories start with literacy.”

“In K-3, you learn to read. Thereafter, you read to learn. If you can’t read by the end of the third grade, you only have a one in four chance of ever catching up,” said Ray Oglethorpe, TLA chairman, adding that 65 percent of third-graders nationwide cannot read at grade level.

“That is a really, really sad state of affairs. That we, a nation as rich as we are, can allow so many of our young people to fail so early in their lives. It’s a moral outrage that we allow so many of our kids to fail so early. It’s also a societal and economic issue,” said Oglethorpe, citing a direct correlation between literacy and welfare.

“Twelve years ago, we came together. This whole community started to coalesce around the idea that we couldn’t allow stuff like this to continue to happen. We’ve been working hard on trying to improve the situation here in Indian River County, and we’ve been making steady progress,” said Oglethorpe.

“When I heard about the Faces campaign, it made perfect sense to me,” said School Superintendent David Moore.

He said seeing the faces of the children will be a direct reminder of the importance of the Moonshot goal, which he envisions occurring within two years.

“This community has provided more support to children than any other community I have ever been a part of. We are in the process of re-envisioning a school system. We are in the process of walking out of a pandemic and walking into what real, good teaching and learning looks like in the 21st century,” said Moore.

To do so, he said it will take the support of the community, additional resources, and recruiting and retaining teachers.

“Literacy is a team sport. We cannot do it without everybody,” said Barbara Hammond, TLA CEO and co-founder. “This force is about positive, productive, forward change. It’s about citizens coming together with all of our diverse viewpoints to unlock all children.”

The “Faces of Early Literacy” posters will soon be on the walls of businesses, schools and community buildings as a temporary art exhibit, inspired by the global “Inside Out” art project featured on a 2011 TED Talk.

Marie O’Brien, TLA digital media and community outreach manager, reiterated that while the Learning Alliance is the coordinator of the Moonshot movement, everyone in the community can have a role in its success.

“This is a year-long campaign. With it, we are filming a documentary because we’re moving into the next decade of our work with an incredible amount of momentum and looking forward to getting everybody on the bus,” said O’Brien. “We invite everyone to join us on this journey.”

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Photos by Kaila Jones