The School Systems Implementation Team (SSIT), supported by the Building Healthy Communities initiative, together with concerned parents and community members, believe student literacy levels are an important indicator of educational attainment and, therefore, a critical predictor of a child’s health and financial security over their life-time. This project aimed to gather the stories of human experience from families and educators, using empathy-based research methods and synthesis, to build deep understanding of the complexity of factors impacting a child’s capacity to learn and attain grade level literacy by third grade. Insights from this research will inform direction and strategies to mobilize systems leaders, educators, community and families around literacy attainment. Del Norte and Adjacent Tribal Lands is a community which is passionate about educational success and has a history of coming together to take action. We acknowledge that this research is a small step in a long journey of a community striving to give its children the best possible education.


Our local research team consisted of either educators, those with experience as an education system specialist, or a systems leader working in early childhood and were drawn from the following organizations: Del Norte Unified School District, Del Norte First 5, Del Norte Child Care Council, Howonquet Head Start, and the Family Resource Center. We interviewed 38 people – 27 parents and 11 educators. Interviews were supported by a comprehensive research protocol and conducted in pairs, with one specialist in human-centered design and research and one interviewer with experience as an educator or education system specialist. When talking to parents in their homes we asked many of them to take us on a learning tour to show us where their children read, played, did homework etc. In some instances, it was the children themselves who took the interviewers on the tour. Once interviews were completed, the interview team worked as a group in insight sessions to synthesize findings and develop insights. The team brought others on the journey by remaining open and transparent about our work. As we were developing our findings and insights, we held walkthroughs with educational, system and community leaders to share our process and emerging insights.


Key Sponsors of Literacy Symposium 2017

Building Healthy Communities


Core Design Team

Melodee Fugate, Executive Director, Del Norte Child Care Council

Angela Glore, Executive Director, First 5 Del Norte

Melissa Ferguson, Early Education & Development Director, DNCUSD

Doreen Wells, Howonquet Head Start

Amira Long, Family Resource Center

Gary Blatnick, Building Healthy Communities - Del Norte & Adjacent Tribal Lands, Education and Literacy Coordinator

School Systems Implementation Team (SSIT)

Jeff Harris, Superintendent

Steve Godla, Assistant Superintendent.

Kevin Hartwick

Chris Howard

Stephanie Alexandre

Gayle Hartwick

Lisa Howard

Melodee Fugate

Crystal Markytan


Created with images by ivanolambertucci - "background yellow floor"

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