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PRESS RELEASE

June 11, 2003

Frances Marine
Press Secretary
(850) 245-0413

Florida Department of Education and Just Read, Florida! Empower Parents of Struggling Third Grade Readers
Families Building Better Readers workshops to be held across Florida

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Education and Just Read, Florida! presented the first of six Families Building Better Readers regional parent involvement workshops in Jacksonville last night. The workshops give parents of third grade students who may be retained based on their 2003 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores tools for helping their children improve their reading skills. Workshops will also be held in Pensacola, Miami, Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa. A schedule for the remaining workshops is attached.

"Our goal is to help struggling readers acquire the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond," said Education Commissioner Jim Horne. "Parents play a key role in academic success and we want to make sure they know how to help their children."

The workshops seek to empower parents with simple instructional activities to improve reading, teach parents strategies for helping their children cope with the possibility of being retained, and connect parents with resources to encourage lifelong learning.

"As a former school teacher, I know the importance of parental involvement," said Lt. Governor Toni Jennings, who will visit the workshops. "These workshops will allow us to provide parents with the tools they need to encourage their children to read."

At the workshops, parents will receive tool kits filled with instructional materials. They will participate in breakout sessions, where they will learn about easy ways to reinforce reading skills. The tool kits contain eight easy-to-learn reading activities based on a proven strategy for helping children improve their reading. The instructions for parents, called reading "blueprints," are available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Haitian-Creole.

Dr. Angela Martin, professor at the University of West Florida and educational consultant, will lead the sessions and give parents the benefit of guided practice. Dr. Martin is an experienced elementary school teacher and is well-known for conducting educational training workshops across the Southeast.

Parents will also be given the opportunity to network with local school district officials and representatives from the Florida Department of Education. The workshops are free of charge and will take place in the evening so that parents can attend after working hours. Many of the supplies and books in the tool kits were donated. A list of sponsors is attached. For more information on the Families Building Better Readers workshops, or to obtain instructional materials online, visit www.JustReadFlorida.com.

Families Building Better Readers Workshops

June 12 Pensacola
Location: J.E. Hall Educational Services Center
30 East Texar Drive, Room 160
Pensacola, Florida
Time: 6:00 pm-6:30 pm Registration
6:30 pm-9:00 pm Workshop
Registration: (850) 469-5597
Contact: Peggy Pilcher (850) 469-5676

June 17 Miami
Location: West Miami Middle Community School
7525 SW 24 Street
Miami, Florida
Time: 5:30 pm-6:30 pm Registration and light supper
6:30 pm-9:00 pm Workshop
Registration: (305) 995-1215
Contact: Yvonne Peterson

June 18 Palm Beach
Location: Fulton-Holland Educational Services Center
3366 Forest Hill Boulevard
West Palm Beach, Florida
Time: 5:30 pm-6:30 pm Light supper
6:30 pm-9:00 pm Workshop
Registration: (561) 434-8017
Contact: Kay Scott

June 25 Orlando
Location: Edgewater High School
3100 Edgewater Drive
Orlando, Florida
Time: 6:00 pm-9:00 pm
Registration: (407) 317-3328
Contact: Peggy Rivers

June 26 Tampa
Location: Middleton High School
4801 North 22nd Street
Tampa, Florida
Time: 6:00 pm-6:30 pm Refreshments and Registration
6:30 pm-9:00 pm Training
Registration: (813) 272-4455
Contact: Joyce Haines

Families Building Better Readers Reading Tool Kits

Sponsors: Harcourt Publishers; Houghton-Mifflin Publishers; McGraw Hill Publishers; Pearson Education; Scholastic; Florida School Book Depository; Florida Education Foundation; Scott Foresman Publishers; DOCS Office Supplies and Business Interiors; Bradenton Herald; Office Depot; Chick-fil-A & Frederic Thomas Publishing; National Wildlife Federation; Dairy Farmers, Inc.; AmSouth; H.B. Paulk, Inc.; Macks Country Meats; HOSTS Mentoring.

Special Thanks to: University of West Florida; FDLRS; Palm Beach County School District; KMDG, Inc.