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EMCC’s Teacher Education Institute Brings Early Literacy to Avondale Families

Father and daughter reading a book Mother and daughter reading a book

The Teacher Education Institute at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) knows how important early literacy is. That’s why it’s partnering with the PebbleCreek Rotary Foundation, Avondale Elementary School District, and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to not only provide 15 families in Avondale with free books for their children but also free lessons for the parents to help them instill those crucial skills in their little ones.

“The goal is to provide parents with user-friendly tips and research-based, parent-friendly information on early literacy strategies that they can use at home when reading with their child,” said Dr. Rachel Holmes, Director of the Teacher Education Institute and Early Childhood programs at EMCC.

The program is for families with children who are younger than 5. Here’s how it works: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library provides the books. The PebbleCreek Rotary Foundation pays for the shipping and handling. The Avondale Elementary School District and PebbleCreek Rotary Foundation identify the families in need. The Avondale Elementary School District provides the classroom space for the lessons. And EMCC’s teaching students create and deliver the lessons.

“The students will be modeling the how-tos of reading with a child and also sharing child-friendly activities that parents can do in the comfort of their home with their children to reinforce the value of literacy,” Dr. Holmes said, adding that each family will also receive supplies such as construction paper, child-size scissors, and crayons. “They will have everything they need to do the fun activities at home without the worry of having to purchase the supplies.”

The lessons will be held twice a month beginning in September and running through December and then again from February through May at Lattie Coor Elementary School in Avondale. They will be facilitated by Dr. Holmes and two of her colleagues, Professors Teresa Crosno and Misti Savage-Shepherd who is also Avondale Elementary School District’s Professional Development Coordinator. But, she stressed, their students will be the ones doing the heavy lifting.

“Teresa, Misti, and I will all be assisting with facilitation but our students will be doing most of the work as they prepare for careers in teaching,” she said.

During the first half of the lesson, some of the EMCC students will work with the parents while other EMCC students conduct fun, interactive games, songs, and activities with their children in another room. Then the families will be brought back together so the parents can practice the new skills they learned. The PebbleCreek Rotary Foundation will also provide snacks.

“Pebblecreek Rotary and Avondale Elementary School District have been absolutely amazing to work with and both Theresa and Misti are amazing teachers, so I’m excited for this collaboration,” Dr. Holmes said. “Everyone is so enthusiastic and excited to grow this program.”


Are you interested in becoming an educator? Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) offers associate degrees in early childhood, elementary, and secondary education, as well as certificates in early childhood and gifted education. And with the university transfer option, you can complete most of your general education coursework at EMCC and have guaranteed acceptance to one of our more than 40 university and college partners to complete your Bachelor’s. To learn more, go to https://www.estrellamountain.edu/degrees-certificates/education.

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