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Workshop gets kids to read

Dorothy Jones
Jovell Rennie
Black in Alaska
Dorothy Jones

Dorothy Jones is a retired professor. She’s concerned that Alaska’s reading rates are too low. So she’s working with a phonics educator to put on a workshop for parents in the Interior who want to give their kids a boost.

“ And the thing that inspired me about this is because my dad learned to read at the age of 77.  My first written communication from him was then at seventy-seven. It was in 1995. I was working on campus and I can't tell you how I felt when I received that message from him. And it was on a computer.”

Jones thanks the Literacy Council in Longview, Texas for helping her father. She says reading is a “gateway” skill, that opens the door to so many others, and a productive life.

“The one thing that he said -- he said, ‘I wonder what I could have been if I had learned to read,’ and that has stuck with me for all these years.  And so now if there's any way that I can help these kids.”

The Alaska Reads Act is in its first full year of implementation in Alaska schools. Reading is emphasized for grades 1 to 3. But black and Alaska Native 4th and 5th graders also have low reading scores.

Jones has been working with former school board president Wendy Dominique, and they have arranged for a reading workshop with Rosa Higgs, an educator who helps children de-code words and learn to read. She’s known for her “Read in 40” program, a method and workbook series that can teach people to read in 40 hours.

“I was inspired to write these workbooks because so many people can't read. I mean beyond children -- adults as well. There is a literacy crisis going on in this country, so I had to write these books. I had to find what works and I couldn't find anywhere. So I became and discovered and wrote what works.”

Higgs says her system is inspired by her own childhood experience, and furthered by scientific study. She is donating her time to come to Fairbanks for a two-hour workshop on Sunday afternoon, February 25. But Jones cautions that the session is limited to 75 families.

“So many parents actually don't know how to help their kids in learning how to read.  And if we can teach the the parents and she's going to do a two-hour workshop, but then she's willing to work with these kids one hour a week for nine weeks after by Zoom.”

Families can register for the workshop at .

The workshop price is $30 per parent – kids are free with a paying adult. Jones says high school students can come for free without parents. She says the school district has picked up the cost of the workbooks, so every family attending can have them for free.

Robyne began her career in public media news at KUAC, coiling cables in the TV studio and loading reel-to-reel tape machines for the radio station.