Collaboration makes Bath-area literacy program a model

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BATH — The family literacy program in Regional School Unit 1, which recently completed its second year, is one of five such initiatives recently named a “Lighthouse Model Program” by the Barbara Bush Foundation.

The foundation has been funding the program, called “SAIL into Literacy.” The program is part of RSU 1 Adult Education.

With lighthouse status, the literacy program will receive $25,000 a year for the next five years, “as long as we prove that we deserve it,” adult ed director Pamela Moody said.

To receive the funding, a program must address four areas: adult literacy, child literacy, parent-child activities (showing parents how to be their child’s first and most important teacher), and parenting education.

As a lighthouse program, “part of the responsibility is to show other communities how to have an effective family literacy program,” Moody said, adding that RSU 1 was chosen due to its collaboration with the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center’s early childhood education program.

Through that collaboration, Moody explained, “we put the adults that need high school completion, basic literacy, college transition, in an adult learning center.”

At the same time, the BRCTC instructor and her vocational students offer an early learning center for children not enrolled in regular schooling.

“The students go out into the community for hands-on experience,” Moody explained. “So part of their hands-on experience is to participate in our SAIL early learning center. … It’s what’s making our family literacy program unique.”

For instance, a parent with a 10-month-old child and no high school diploma can see Moody about getting that diploma.

“If you would like to enhance … the educational readiness of your child,” she said, “you can come to an adult ed class, and at the same time … your 10-month-old can go into our early learning center and have a professional certified teacher, and a couple of her students, whose goal is to be an educator.”

Moody noted that what is offered is not child care, but rather a true early learning center.

“We all know lately, from the research, what the impact is for children that are young,” she said. “The brain develops the most between the ages of birth and 3, and why leave that up to chance when we can have an impact on that brain development?”

To participate in the family literacy program a parent must have a child younger than 9 years old. Log onto bath.maineadulted.org or call 443-8255 for more information.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.