Learning Begins Early and Lasts a Lifetime

February 02, 2024

Posted By
E3 Elevate Early Education

Dear Advocates + Friends:

When I think back to my childhood, I was fortunate to grow up in a house filled with books, newspapers and people reading all around me and to me. We played word games, sang songs, made rhymes, talked about the books we read and had conversations. Every month I could not wait to receive a box filled with age-appropriate books sent right to my door. These books were special gifts that inspired a love of reading, sparked my imagination and creativity.

I cherished these books (a little too much as you can see).

At a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I admired and respected my teachers. They gave me the gift of learning to think critically, read and write. My close friends and family will tell you that I am an avid reader and love to curl up with a good book. Mysteries have always been one of my favorite genres. That stems from all of the Scooby Doo, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries I read back in the day.

For many years, I taught 3rd grade in the public schools. My classroom was filled with students reading above grade level and way below grade level. It was heartbreaking to watch a child barely reading struggle to keep up with their peers. The research tells us that these students may never catch up and are four times more likely not to graduate from high school.

Every few years the leadership of E3:Elevate Early Education conducts listening sessions across Virginia. We convened business and civic leaders, superintendents, elected officials, parents, philanthropists, principals, current and retired teachers, school board members and university faculty. Over 24 sessions were held in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Norfolk, Northern Virginia, Richmond, Roanoke and Virginia Beach.

We partnered with public media, philanthropists, policymakers, school divisions, libraries, the Youngkin Administration, UVA and the Virginia Literacy Partnerships to curate six screening events of The Right To Read documentary to raise awareness around the reading crisis and the Virginia Literacy Act. Learn more about the challenges stakeholders identified.

We listened. The leadership of E3:Elevate Early Education determined that our organization would focus on the initiatives that stakeholders consistently identified by raising awareness, advocating and creating innovative initiatives to help solve the reading crisis. We are committed to making sure every child reads and has equitable access to a top-notch education for the first eight years of their lives regardless of their zip code.

Our team looks forward to working with you to make education a top priority. Stay tuned to learn more about our policy initiatives for the 2024 General Assembly session.