Advocating for early literacy
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Carol Klose Smith, clinical assistant professor of school counseling (back row, third from left), and 14 school counseling master's students proudly display the many books they donated to over 100 preschoolers at the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County.
All 104 preschoolers affiliated with the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County were able to take home a book along with information for their parents about the importance of reading thanks to a community outreach project led by the University of Iowa College of Education’s chapter of the Student Iowa School Counselor Association (SISCA).
SISCA is a student organization that supports the professional developmental needs of school counseling students with a focus on advocacy, community involvement, and education.
“This year, we made it a priority to develop new community partnerships in Iowa City,” says Jaclyn Inaclang, SISCA president and school counseling master’s student at the College of Education.
The Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County is a family-centered, community-based nonprofit in Iowa City. The Centers include three preschool sites serving 104 three- and four-year-old preschool students from low-income households.
Inaclang says her group was inspired by American Psychological Association research that shows only 20 percent of four year olds in poverty can recognize all 26 letters in the alphabet.
“One known method for boosting the development of early literacy skills is to expose young children to reading through the use of books. Our role as school counselors is to advocate for all students, ensuring their overall academic success,” Inaclang says. “Through this community partnership, as school counselors, we were able to advocate for students by connecting them to much needed resources: books!”
SISCA worked with community partners to raise money toward purchasing the books. The group delivered the books to each site and spent time in the classrooms reading to preschool students.
Carol Klose Smith, SISCA advisor and a clinical assistant professor at the UI College of Education, says the School Counseling master’s degree program at the UI “emphasizes making a difference in the lives of children.”
“I believe this type of outreach program encompasses the many values of our program and the profession of school counseling,” Smith says.