Workshop: Viewing Education as Community-Wide Responsibility featuring Grade-Level Reading Communities

Youth and Education Workshop Track:

Location: Hilton Denver City Center
1701 California Street, Denver, CO 80202
Date: Friday, June 22, 2018
Time: 9:45am – 11:00am Workshop Block 1
Room: Denver

Click here to view the 2018 National Conference on Local Governance & All-America City Awards combined agenda.


Ron Fairchild’s role with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is to serve as the director of the GLR Support Center, which functions as a hub for peer exchange, a broker of tools and technical assistance, and an accelerator of the scope and pace of change in the more than 360 communities in 43 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada currently involved in the Campaign.  Ron fulfills this role while also serving as President and CEO of the Smarter Learning Group, a national consulting firm focused on helping education-related organizations achieve better results, build stronger partnerships, and attract more investment. Prior to launching the firm in 2011, Ron served as the founding CEO of the National Summer Learning Association and the executive director of its predecessor organization, the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University.


Dr. Diana Gonzales Worthen-Director, Project RISE at the University of Arkansas and co-founder of UnaComunidad Leyendo! Dr. Diana Gonzales Worthen, serves as: Director of REACH-Retooling Educators and Paraprofessionals to ACHieve Teacher Credentialing, an ESL Endorsement program for classroom teachers and “grow your own” teacher program for bilingual, bicultural paraprofessionals at the University of Arkansas. As a former high school science teacher and ESL assistant curriculum supervisor in the Springdale School System, she advocated for culturally and linguistically diverse students and families to increase high school graduation and college-going rates by writing grants such as the Toyota Family Literacy Program and Bilingual Community Service and Leadership Program.

In 2009, she and Al “Papa Rap” Lopez co-founded OneCommunity, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote communities working together as One to enhance the quality of life of all people through use of best practices and outreach services that improve health, education and leadership skills. Funded by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, OneCommunity Reads, UnaComunidad Leyendo!, one of five Arkansas Grade-Level Reading initiatives was launched in 2013 to increase 3rd grade reading proficiency. Springdale was named a Community Solutions Pacesetter City in 2015, 2016 and an All-America City in 2017 for culturally responsive civic engagement and recognized by the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, for reducing chronic absenteeism by 70 percent at Monitor and Parson Hills elementary schools, increasing the percentage of rising first-fourth graders not losing ground over the summer from 81 to 89 percent through Feed Your Brain, Alimenta tu Cerebro, a bilingual, family summer reading program at George and Jones elementary schools and increased parent engagement through Parents Taking Leadership Action (PTLA), a program which provides interactive lessons in the native language to strengthen parent-school communication, increase educational awareness and enhance leadership potential of diverse parents. Springdale is a 2018 All-American City Finalist.

Earlier in 1999, Diana was co-founder of the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas where she served six years as President. She currently serves on the Arkansas State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Arkansas Coalition for Family and Community Engagement, Partners of the Americas-Arkansas-East Bolivia Partnership and ForwARd Springdale, which recently launched its city-wide initiative, Springdale Reads.

Diana lives in Springdale with her husband, Shannon of 34 years and daughter, Laura who is a medical student at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Al “Papa Rap” Lopez-ESL Communication/Community Liaison at Springdale Public Schools and co-founder of UnaComunidad Leyendo!

Al Lopez is building with music a communication bridge of friendship between people. He is also known as “Papa Rap,” an alias he uses when performing at different area schools and civic organizations events. As “Papa Rap” he uses music to help people find common ground to work together. His lyrics focus on the importance of open communication and education, and they touch people of all ages. Al is currently employed by the Springdale School District as the School Community Liaison.  The latest on school and community news is broadcasted once a week on Al’s “Papa Reportes” Radio interventions on La Zeta, 99.5 FM to help newcomers into the school system. Some of the topics include parent opportunities in the school, reading, scholarships and careers.

He has received many awards and recognition from various organizations throughout the state. He has worked with city and state government officials, non-profit organizations, agencies and school districts to build bridges of friendship and to bring understanding among people from diverse backgrounds. Al co-founded OneCommunity, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote communities working together as One to enhance the quality of life of all people through use of best practices and outreach services that improve health, education and leadership skills.

Al has produced and written numerous lyrics for bilingual public service announcements for radio and television. Al has won four music composition awards with the John Lennon Song Writing Contest including first place in the 1998 Children’s Category, for the “What’s Up, Que Pasa” bilingual song about friendship.

Al’s favorite quote is- “If you don’t like me, you better not cross my path, because every time you do I will try to be your friend and give you a hug”.

Robin Lamott SparksExecutive Director at Coalition for New Britain’s Youth, a citywide group of community stakeholders committed to improving the lives of New Britain’s youth, birth through age 24. The Coalition was named a Pacesetter Community by the Grade Level Reading Campaign the past 4 years, winner of the NSLA 2016 NYL Excellence in Summer Learning Award, and an All America City award by the National Civic League in both 2016 and 2017 for its work ensuring all children are healthy and supported to succeed in school and life.  Previously, Robin was the Senior Director of Policy and Research at the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition. Robin also serves on the Connecticut Healthcare Innovation Steering Committee that provides overall direction to the State Innovation Model Initiative.  Robin has also served as the Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at Quinnipiac University.  During her tenure, she and her athletes filed a Title IX lawsuit against Quinnipiac University, and several important legal precedents were set in the five legal decisions that they won. She started her career in Washington, DC, where she worked at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey.  Robin has a Bachelor’s degree in History from Ball State University and a Masters of Public Administration from the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She also currently serves on the Alliance of Women Coaches National Board of Directors.

Sydney Sparks, student, just finished her junior year at Hamden High School in Hamden, CT. She’s enjoying the college search process and hopes to study history or political science. In school, she is a two-sport varsity athlete (volleyball and gymnastics) and plays violin in both the school orchestra and chamber orchestra. She is also a member of the House Leadership team, the Writing Club, and the Spanish Honor Society.  Outside of school, she was on the staff at the CT HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Organization) state leadership seminar earlier in June and will attend the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Youth Leadership Institute at Princeton University in July.

Viewing Education as Community-Wide Responsibility featuring Grade-Level Reading Communities:

Young people are educated through experiences that occur both inside and outside of schools. Community members and organizations have a large role to play in ensuring the success of youth. This workshop will explore ways to include parents, schools, municipalities, chambers, foundations and everyday community members in the work of education.

The Springdale Grade-Level Reading Coalition has made parent engagement and cultural competency a staple of their work. When OneCommunity Reads, UnaComunidad Leyendo! launched in 2013, its goal was to improve kindergarten readiness and grade-level reading by increasing the parent and community involvement of Hispanic and Marshallese families in the Springdale area. The foundation of the initiative is Parents Taking Leadership Action (PTLA), which believes parents have gifts and talents to contribute to their child’s school and community and are the primary leaders of their children and family.

The Coalition for New Britain’s Youth, is a citywide collaboration that includes parents, educators, government officials, health and social service agencies, and others as members committed to improving the lives of New Britain’s youth, birth through age 24. The New Britain group leverages the assets of community members to reach approximately 5,000 low-income children in a school district of roughly 10,000 students to ensure the success of its most vulnerable young residents.

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