James and Lee have begun collecting information to put together a more formal construct for the program When Sara Smiles.
First, a big thank you to John, Sara's fellow consultant of many years, and Dake, her doctorate advisor from University of Delaware. They have both put forth valuable ideas of what a program like this should look like, considerations, and how it will further Sara's work. We will continue to call on their expertise to shape the program.
And to the supporters, oh the supporters! Your generous donations have created a wonderful fund for starting the program. Thank you all - every bit counts and is most appreciated. Sara would be so honored.
James has been putting the financial house in order, setting up a tax ID and reviewing the process for filing a 501c, so we can get our wonderful supporters a tax break for future contributions. Donations have continued to come in, putting us in a good position to fund our first installation of the program.
Lee is setting up a website to serve many functions. Initially, it will provide updates on progress (!). Eventually it will provide the required public information for a non-profit, resources for program participants, and a repository of Sara's work for future researchers.
Initial Vision: Read-Alouds + Writing
We plan to start with a program designed around something that was a central role in Sara’s research and dissertation along with her work with teachers. The initial focus of this program will be “underserved” students and to provide resources to show teachers and education students how to conduct high quality read-alouds with those students and have them respond in writing.
While there is a lot of knowledge about how to engage young students in highly interactive read-alouds there is not nearly as much knowledge on how to incorporate writing into that process. We feel this is a good starting point as it is a process that is discrete and could be taught fairly easily to teachers and students. This also means that teachers (and students) could learn to do it with fairly limited support.
With schools moving to the common core standards, there is much more emphasis placed on writing. This will help teachers looking to incorporate writing into their instruction in a meaningful way and a program such as this will help them do so.
The business model for this program will have to account for tutor stipends, training materials and a school-based liaison (e.g., teacher or administrator). This liaison would bridge the gap between what our foundation seeks to accomplish with young writers and the expectations of the school district (e.g., the kinds of writing the student is expected to do well). The tutoring model would be based on the CCP Framework that Sara knew, but a pared-down, easy-to-use version for novice teacher candidates.
As the funded program grows, our focus will gradually become more sharply pointed at developing writers, which was the most important thing to Sara. As the resources allow, the Foundation will establish and market a new program which puts into place school-based, after-school tutoring in writing, aimed at the intermediate and middle school years. This is where the work of Sara and her collaborators over the last 10 years would begin to surface in the work of the Sara B. McCraw Reading Fund.