City’s Early Literacy Group Haverhill Promise Seeks Director Ahead of First Anniversary

Haverhill Promise's Rich Rosa, Andy Vargas, Sally Fuller, Gail Sullivan and John Maddox held a focus group at the Haverhill Public Library in November 2018. (WHAV News file photograph)

Love literacy and all that comes with it? Haverhill Promise, the 11-month-old citywide effort to get all students reading at or above grade level by the end of the third grade, seeks a full-time director.

According to organizers including state Rep. Andy Vargas, school Superintendent Margaret Marotta and school physician Dr. John Maddox, the ideal candidate is willing to go the extra mile to level achievement and opportunity gaps often seen as barriers to learning.

“This community-based individual will work with the school district, library, health care providers and other key partners. We want someone who will wake up every day thinking about Haverhill children reading,” Vargas tells WHAV.

Launched in March 2018, Haverhill Promise includes representatives from several city organizations—including the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, Holy Family Hospital and WHAV—that have worked together to engage young readers.

School nurse Shanyn Toulouse, who serves on Haverhill Promise’s 12-member steering committee, said the group prioritizes heath and the impact it has on learning.

“When a child has a vision problem, they’re usually unaware that they can't see, and these problems can go unidentified. Research shows a link between vision problems and lower literacy proficiency,” Toulouse told WHAV. “I’m looking forward to continued support from pediatricians, school nurses, eye care professionals, and other health care providers in support of the goals of Haverhill Promise.”

Joining Vargas, Marotta, Maddox and Toulouse are Haverhill Public Library Director Sarah Moser, Chamber of Commerce President Dougan Sherwood, Attorney Richard Rosa, Holy Family Hospital’s Katie Vozeolas, School Committeewoman Gail Sullivan, Haverhill Education Coalition representative Joanna Dix and WHAV journalist Allison Corneau. Sally Fuller of the Springfield-based Reading Success by 4th Grade is consulting.

To date, the group has built and provided 250 books for little libraries across Haverhill, with a December community book drive collecting an additional 70 books to be distributed to students this spring. Haverhill Promise has also provided professional development opportunities for city educators, bringing 1647, an organization with family engagement expertise, to support the school district.

For more information on Haverhill Promise or to apply for the director position, email [email protected].

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