The Rollins Center for Language and Literacy Leverages Every Opportunity to Support Children’s Success

By Comer Yates
Executive Director of the Atlanta Speech School

The Rollins Center for Language and Literacy and its free online Cox Campus recently released the first section of its online courses for kindergarten through third grade educators.

In 2016, Rollins produced Every Opportunity, a video that soon went viral, gaining more than 100 million views. Every Opportunity showed what can happen in a child’s school day—in a compliance-focused, traditional school setting. It then presents an alternative where the child is seen, engaged, and connected with rather than being silenced.

Building on the video’s themes, the Every Opportunity coursework underscores the role that every school educator and staff person can play in promoting a positive learning climate and helping children find and employ their voice to achieve their potential.

The lessons are based on brain science. With only 37 percent of our children reading proficiently by the end of third grade, illiteracy has become a public health epidemic. The science tells us what we, as educators, need to do—and this course, universally available for free, can be the distribution system for the vaccine.

The Cox Campus also offers facilitation guides to support schools as they lead groups of educators through the work together to ensure a coordinated effort in the school—with everyone focused on the same goal: to have every child on the path to literacy by fourth grade.

The initial K – 3 lessons, titled “Freedom of Literacy,” introduce the Rollins Center framework for “Construction of the Reading Brain” and demonstrate how to create an intentionally designed school ecosystem of engaged adults working toward transformative literacy outcomes.

The second course, released in Sept. 2018, applies Build My Brain, a project developed in partnership with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, to demonstrate the direct link between access to language beginning in the third trimester of pregnancy and K – 3 work to prepare, monitor, and teach, and expand literacy capacity in children.

Additional courses will be released over the year, designed to build capacity for teachers to provide explicit instruction that promotes reading skills and ensures that each child is acquiring foundational language abilities, executive functions, critical thinking, and empathy that should have been developed prior to kindergarten entry.

These new courses complement the existing coursework on the Rollins Center’s Cox Campus, designed for early learning educators who work with children from birth through age 5. To date, more than 42,000 teachers in all 50 states and 42 other countries have taken advantage of this powerful professional development resource.

The Cox Campus is a part of the Rollins Center’s ongoing commitment to break the cycle of illiteracy for children whose families have experienced generational lack of access to educational opportunity and resulting poverty. The Rollins Center is the professional development arm of the Atlanta Speech School, the nation’s most comprehensive center for language and literacy and a member of the Get Georgia Reading Cabinet.