WVDE brings good news to Read Aloud’s annual conference

Another successful Read Aloud Conference is in the books! Chapter representatives gathered July 24 and 25 at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, West Virginia to network, share ideas and plan for the year ahead.

Read Aloud West Virginia welcomed not only chapter representatives, but also State Associate Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch, along with Charlotte Webb, Coordinator of the Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning. Burch, who was the featured keynote speaker for the conference, affirmed an ongoing, natural partnership between Read Aloud West Virginia and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE).

Reiterating Read Aloud’s core values, Burch noted the important work the organization is doing in the classroom and in support of parents and families. Burch believes we can only “move the needle” on educational improvement if we change our culture to place a high value on education and engage families as well as educators to expect the best from our children. He cited the success of a Read Aloud summer reading project at Crichton Elementary as an example of engaging families and encouraging reading outside the classroom. At Crichton, students were able to choose six books to add to their home libraries and read during the summer. This project served to prevent the phenomenon known as “summer-slide.”

As he brought his remarks to a close, Burch surprised his audience with the announcement that the WVDE had chosen to award two grants to Read Aloud West Virginia, totaling $75,000. These grants are the first Read Aloud has received from the WVDE and are a significant tribute to the work of our volunteers around the state.

Following a motivating opening, the conference attendees were briefed on the Read Aloud “Year in Review” and chapters were given the opportunity to share their success stories as well as challenges they faced in the previous year. An entirely new Resource Kit was distributed to each representative in attendance and new marketing materials such as brochures and banners were on display for chapters’ use.  Staff members of the state Read Aloud office also shared reports from their departments.

Following the sessions, representatives networked with other attendees to develop connections and share resources from their respective locations. Attendees consisted of both veterans and newcomers to the conference, but the passion they share for Read Aloud West Virginia united them and yielded a productive retreat for all.