Dalton-Whitfield Archway Partnership Updates

Welcome to the Dalton-Whitfield Archway Partnership Blog. Check this blog regularly to learn about the priorities, goals, and actions of the Archway Partnership.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Readers to Leaders Hosts 3rd Annual Celebration of Literacy

Readers to Leaders recently hosted its third annual community-wide celebration of literacy for nearly 600 people in the Dalton-Whitfield community!  Of those 600, 149 were volunteers and 279 were children! A total of 276 free books were given away to attendees! Against the festive backdrop of games, live story book characters, and food, reading took center stage. There were cozy reading circles for children of all ages where stories were read by community volunteers. Reading-related crafts and activities further conveyed the importance of literacy. Below are a few snapshots from the event. To view all the photos, visit the Readers to Leaders Facebook page here

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


With the early childhood Race to the Top funds, the State of Georgia has chosen 11 regions of high needs to apply to be an Early Education Empowerment Zone (E3Z) region, one of which includes Dalton-Whitfield County. If the Dalton-Whitfield County region gets chosen, benefits include $1.2 million dollars for birth to five efforts. The Archway Partnership recently collaborated with other local organizations to facilitate and organize a presentation for the E3Z search committee. The Committee visited Dalton-Whitfield County on July 29, and recipient regions will be announced later this fall. Photos of Phil Ledbetter from Catoosa Family Connections addressing the search committee on July 29 can be viewed below. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Assessment Report Out

In an effort to achieve the vision of getting children in Dalton-Whitfield County on grade level reading by third grade, a special assessment team of local data experts in industries from Shaw, Mohawk, and J&J have worked tirelessly for months to determine if there is local consensus on what constitutes “third grade reading level.” The group has thoroughly reviewed the existing data and has developed a report on their findings. The data has been delivered to several leaders in the community, including city and county school representatives, teachers, and the Archway Partnership Executive Committee.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dalton Whitfield Archway Partnership Teams Up with Local Educators to Share Best Practices at Georgia Department of Education (DOE) Conference

At a recent Georgia DOE conference, Archway Education Professional Katy Green collaborated with Kathryn Wilhoite and Maria Khote from Dalton Public Schools to share results from Archway’s pilot Saturday Academy program. Roughly twenty practitioners from around the state had the opportunity to learn about best practices and lessons learned.  Feedback was very positive, with many communities interested in learning more about Saturday Academy and the Archway Partnership.  

A link to the presentation can be viewed here. Photos of the three presenters can be viewed below. 

Conference presenters from left to right: Kat Wilhoite, Dalton Public Schools Teacher; Katy Green, Archway Education Professional; and Maria Khote, Dalton Public School Parent Educator

Presenters Kat Wilhoite (far left) and Maria Khote (right, next to Kat) discuss the presentation with participants after the conference. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tri-University Research Team Notes Significant Learning Gains in Saturday Academy Participants

The Dalton-Whitfield Archway Partnership recently facilitated Saturday classes for families of three-to-five year old children at the Mack Gaston Community Center. These classes were designed to promote school readiness skills and empower parents to serve as their child’s first teacher.

An evaluation of the pilot by researchers from the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, and the University of West Georgia indicated that participants experienced significant gains in school readiness skills, oral vocabulary, and an improvement of the family home literacy environment. Thirty families participated in the pilot study. Over 80% of participants were Spanish speaking only, and all classes and information were in a bi-lingual format. Parents reported a desire for more classes.  In addition, they indicated in a survey that they are reading more with their children, have a better understanding of child development, and now have a better understanding of all that they can do to help their children at home. An article highlighting the program's success and published by the Daily Citizen Newspaper can be read herePictures of the program can be viewed on our Facebook photo albums here

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Drive Continues With Major Donations from Chattanooga Food Bank, Salvation Army, and Private Donors

This spring, Readers to Leaders hosted a formal book drive to supply book giveaways including Book Nooks, Pre-K registration, and Summer Power Lunches.  In light of the tremendous interest in these giveaways, our need has outpaced our books.  Fortunately, local donors have risen to the occasion to facilitate our summer giveaways.  Recently, the local Salvation Army donated two large bins of books; the Dalton branch of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank donated 352 lbs. of books; and private donors have cleaned out their basements (and their neighbors’ basements) to support the cause. A great big thank you goes to local community members, Tom and Ginger Mathis, who collected books from family and friends for Readers to Leaders at a personal event in their home. 

We are still in need for more books, as community demand is more than our current supply. If you or someone you know has books to donate, contact Archway Partnership United Way VISTA Melissa Morrison at 706.712.0961 or readers2leadersdw@gmail.com. 

Pictures of recent book donations can be viewed below.

Archway Partnership United Way VISTA Melissa Morrison smiles at the load of books in her car donated by the Salvation Army.

Books donated by the Dalton branch of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank were loaded onto a scale (left) before being brought to the Archway Partnership office. The weight totaled 352 lbs. (right)!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Archway’s Readers to Leaders Fuels “Power Lunches” at County USDA Free Lunch Sites

This summer, the Archway Partnership’s Readers to Leaders initiative is giving out free books to children at eight of our neediest USDA free lunch sites in Whitfield County.  Children without access to books typically regress academically in the summer when compared to their peers who do have access.  Research has proven that book access can make a tremendous difference in preventing the drastic learning slide. 

Readers to Leaders is providing books collected from donors and book drives, and Whitfield County Food Services is making sure the books get in the hands of kids. The Chamber of Commerce, Dalton State College’s School of Education, AmeriCorps VISTAs, and several churches are conducting reading circles and extra learning opportunities at some of the sites. This initiative would not be possible without Alice Ensley with Big Red Reads who has assisted with best practices and book donations.

Locations serving as a host site for children to receive their free lunch and book are: Mountain View Subdivision, Dawnville Meadows, Pleasant Grove Elementary School, Cedar Ridge housing area, Swamp Creek Baptist Church, New Haven United Methodist Church, Margaret Circle, and River Bend housing area.

We anticipate giving out around 1,000 books (or more) a week between now and the week of July 28.  Volunteers are needed to pass out books, encourage kids to read, and read to children at the sites. Books are also needed to accommodate the thousands of children receiving books over the coming weeks.

Pictures of the Power Lunches can be viewed here on our Facebook photo albums page.