Sheridan Students become Published Authors

Congratulations to the students of Sheridan Elementary for becoming published authors this week! The students took over a year to develop and edit the title “Help!” which is about a grandmother who has trouble pulling a carrot from the ground. This story in itself is fairly simple, yet it translates well to other children around the globe. This title is one of eleven that will be translated and offered through Ethiopia Reads to children in Ethiopia to promote early reading.  To celebrate their accomplishments, the students at Sheridan Skyped with the editor of their work, Jane Kurtz. They also enjoyed a traditional coffee service with carrot cake and refreshments. Students then read their published work for parents, staff, and guests at the reception. For more information on Ethiopia Reads, Sheridan Library Media Specialist, Carol Settgast provided the following article included below.

Congratulations to Ethiopia Reads for their recent Library of Congress recognition as a 2016 Best Practice Honoree! Each year the Library of Congress selects three prize-winning organizations and several honorees who have implemented best practices in literacy promotion around the globe. These honorees exemplify the successful use of research-validated practices in creating evidence-based literacy programs. Krister Karlsson, Director of Development for Ethiopia Reads, traveled to DC to deliver remarks on Ethiopia Reads’ programmatic work done in the field in Ethiopia. He states, “At this point, the greatest benefit we’ve seen (due to this recognition) is more public awareness and interest in supporting our organization.”

Ethiopia Reads has supported literacy in the Horn of Africa since 1998 by helping build five schools, planting 72 libraries, and annually serving 130,000 children. However, Ethiopia Reads is much more than a facility driven organization. Their heart and soul provides comprehensive support to school libraries through educator training and networking. Ethiopia Reads recognizes the importance of local language resources by publishing books while supporting local authors and illustrators to sustain a culture of reading. Another outreach provided to rural communities by ER is the deployment of horse-powered libraries! Originally, they were donkey-powered library carts. However, the concept is the same…a teacher provides books and other teaching resources to children gathered under a tree to experience literacy and numeracy lessons.

Ethiopia Reads is no stranger to USD 475! The Geary County Reading Association is currently collecting used books to send to Ethiopian school libraries. GCRA has supported this non-profit for years by collecting books, fundraising, and hosting author, Jane Kurtz (one of ER’s founding board members) for student writing workshops. Our own Carol Settgast, Sheridan Library Media Specialist, has also been actively involved with Ethiopia Reads since 2010 after participating in cultural exchange training experiences with the Fulbright Hays Group Abroad Project. Mrs. Settgast has returned to Ethiopia numerous times with KSU colleagues such as Dr. Laurie Curtis, other U. S. educators, including Jane Kurtz to provide professional development.

In the spring of 2012, an initial needs assessment trip determined what type of training would be beneficial to ER based on current programs and input from across all regions. This was the inception of the Book Centered Learning Committee. Mrs. Settgast joined the committee to provide needed expertise in school library program development.

Ethiopia Reads Book Centered Learning Committee Timeline:

  • 2013- 2014 – Developed 3 rubrics for guiding training and assessing school library programs: 1.) Library Environment/Access 2.) Read Aloud Observations 3.) Professional Development
  • January 2014 – Pilot Assessment Rubric with ER staff by Dr. Ann Walker and Dr. Jill Shafer
  • January 2015 – Pilot BCL Training on Early Literacy, using Data to Guide Work in Libraries and Basic Library Organization by Dr. Laurie Curtis and Carol Settgast
  • January 2015 – Reviewed the use of the rubric with Ethiopia Reads’ staff to gain final feedback prior to it being translated and final rubric draft approved
  • 2015 – 2016 – Training Manual developed for each module based on the rubrics; multi-leveled curriculum created for each module; protocol for training sessions adopted using an active participation model; integrating Ethiopian curriculum and resources
  • March 2015 – Assessment completed by ER staff; baseline data collected and analyzed by BCL Committee using the rubrics
  • November 2015 – BCL Training completed by Sue Fristad, Yvonne Hanley, Janet Rose and Dr. Jill Shafer on Library Organization and Read Aloud Protocol
  • 2016 – 2017 On-going curriculum development based on data analysis

Ethiopian school librarians need to recognize the value of continued training for innovating and encouraging exciting ways to develop a culture of literacy. Quantitative and qualitative data collected from the three goals will guide the committee’s future direction.

Lastly, Dana Roskey, ER Director, and his staff recognize the vital mission of advocacy in order to develop a country entrenched in literacy. The time and resources spent on advocacy amongst the Department of Education, teacher training institutions, local authorities, school administrators, and surrounding school communities are critical to not only the success of this project, but the successful work of Ethiopia Reads. They are dedicated champions using every bit of their skills and smarts to benefit the children of Ethiopia. After all, they are the people on the frontlines pushing for positive change in growing life-long readers and learners in their country. The work that we do together helps others throughout Ethiopia see that Ethiopia Reads is here for the long haul.

Article Provided by Carol Settgast, Library Media Specialist, Sheridan Elementary

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