Texas House of Representatives to Honor LEAF Program May 4

May 3, 2005

by Julie Carlson

The Texas House of Representatives will recognize the community-based, literacy program LEAF (Learning English Among Friends) at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 4, at the State Capitol building in Austin. Attending the ceremony will be Baylor professors Randy Wood and Rob Rogers, co-directors of LEAF; César Chávez Middle School Principal Alfredo Loredo; adult ESL students; and Baylor education and social work students.

The group will be introduced to the House of Representatives and meet with Hispanic members of the House for a discussion of literacy problems in Texas and how LEAF is solving some of them in Waco.

The family literacy program has been in effect at César Chávez Middle School for two years. Beginning with only 30 students, it has grown to more 200 who attend its weekly events. Although it was geared toward parents of students at César Chávez Middle School, LEAF is now open to any person wishing to learn English better and not only has classes for adults, but also for LEAF Kids (ages 4 through grade 4 and grades 5-8).

"Because of the goals of helping adults improve their English, helping parents improve their parenting skills, and helping citizens become more involved in the community, LEAF has met many needs in this South Waco community," said Dr. Randy Wood, professor of curriculum and instruction in Baylor's School of Education. "The growth in the program helps families to understand the importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty."

LEAF will sponsor several events in May. On May 5, the program will host a Cinco de Mayo celebration during the class time at César Chávez Middle School. Then, on May 13th, during the CCMS Fiesta, LEAF will have a booth where there will be a puppet show and craft puppet table for the children and LEAF materials for. LEAF also will distribute information about its summer program, the LEAF book study. At 5:30 p.m. each Thursday, participants will read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in a "400 vocabulary" edition - an easy to read version with only 400 different words for new readers but not beginning readers - as well as work on the new Rosetta Stone ESL software that will help improve their English proficiency.

LEAF is a collaboration between Waco's César Chávez Middle School, Baylor University's Schools of Education and Social Work, GEAR UP of Waco, and McLennan County Youth Collaboration (MCYC).

For more information about LEAF or any of its projects, contact Wood or Rogers at (254) 710-2410. For credential information on coverage of the LEAF visit to the House of Representatives, contact the House Communications Office at (512) 463-0903.

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