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PRESS RELEASE - Success, No Excuses

Minnesota educational publisher partners with South Carolina school to fight illiteracy

ROCHESTER, MINN. — Pedia Learning, a family-owned Minnesota business that publishes the Logic of English® reading and spelling curriculum, is partnering with Estill Elementary School in South Carolina to combat illiteracy in the Estill community and empower every student in the school to read successfully. Two nonprofit organizations, The National Right to Read Foundation and The South Carolina Literacy Task Force, are joining with Estill and Pedia Learning to support this project.

Estill Elementary’s principal, Dr. Deborah Martin, learned of the Logic of English at a literacy conference in South Carolina organized by the South Carolina Literacy Task Force last year. Denise Eide, president of Pedia Learning and author of Uncovering the Logic of English: A Common-Sense Approach to Reading, Spelling, and Literacy, was the keynote speaker at the event. Martin was intrigued by Eide’s presentation about the logical reasons for and consistent patterns in English spelling, and how teaching this material systematically enables all students to become strong readers and spellers. Martin and her colleagues began to explore how they could implement this material for their students.

In the coming months, a partnership grew. Estill Elementary, designated by the State of South Carolina as an under-performing school, is located in a rural area with a history of low literacy and employment levels and high poverty. Martin and her staff, however, did not see these factors as an acceptable excuse for failure. Instead, they set their eyes on one goal for their students: “Success, and no excuses.” They purchased Logic of English materials. Donated materials from Pedia Learning and a grant from the Beaufort Foundations bridged the gap between the district’s budget and the cost of implementing the curriculum. Eide traveled to Estill in August for a four-day training with Estill teachers.

Estill's kindergarten, first, and second graders are using Logic of English Foundations for handwriting, phonics, reading, and spelling. In third through fifth grade, Estill students are learning cursive with the Logic of English Rhythm of Handwriting program and using Logic of English Essentials to strengthen their reading skills while learning linguistically accurate phonics, spelling, vocabulary, basic composition, and grammar.

Estill teachers report an increase in students’ confidence. Discipline problems are down, and enthusiastically raised hands are up. The reason, says fourth grade teacher Marsha Robinson, is clear: “They believe in themselves more … they believe that they can read.” The material makes sense, and they are experiencing the fact that there are logical patterns to written English and they have the ability and tools to comprehend it. As a result, their interest in language and their confidence and success in reading are on the rise.

This is no surprise to Eide, whose interest in literacy and the reasons for English spelling grew out of two of her own children’s struggles with reading. She knows first-hand that teaching why English words are spelled the way they are and honoring rather than discouraging kids’ questions about language can transform a discouraged, frustrated child who misreads “his” and “have” to a happy, independent reader who can not only read these words but explain to others why they are spelled the way they are.

In January, several members of the Logic of English staff visited Estill to see the teachers and students in action and to film a mini-documentary about the school’s quest for success in reading for their students, as well as to provide additional teacher training. The video, “Success, No Excuses: Reading at Estill Elementary,” is available on YouTube.

As Estill looks forward to a second year of Logic of English in 2015-2016, the National Right to Read Foundation and the South Carolina Literacy Task Force are teaming up to help raise funds for the project. The school now has most of the teacher materials they need for the program, but new classroom supplies for subsequent levels of the curriculum, student workbooks, children’s literature, and additional teacher training for next year will cost approximately $28,500. Those interested in learning more about Estill and donating to this project may do so at www.nrrf.org.