By Brittany Llorente
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- During a two day event, teachers, parents, school administrators and members of the community came together for a common goal: the students.
The Moonshot Moment's goal is to work with community leaders to develop programs to get 90 percent literacy by the third grade in Indian River County Schools.
On July 31 and Aug. 1, community members from the schools and county came together to share stories on how improved literacy has worked in their homes and schools, and what the next steps to make this a reality are.
To Barbara Hammond, the co-founder and executive director of the Learning Alliance, the event was remarkable.
"The type of communication between the schools and the communities is unprecedented," she said.
Seeing some of the school grades slip this year from last, there has been an outcry from the community.
"Instead of people running away, we need them to turn to us and say 'how can we help,'" Ms. Hammond said. "It is so important for people to have an understanding of the expectations in the school district."
With a new focus on this goal, the 'share blame game,' as Ms. Hammond calls it, will be pushed aside to what can be built to help change public schools.
Ms. Hammond explained that most schools were focusing on the elite group of students who really understood and had a high literacy level.
Those students would fill the knowledge based jobs while the others would fill other jobs.
Now, the knowledge based jobs are nine out of 10, which is why the pivotal point of literacy, by third grade is necessary, Ms. Hammond said.
"The statistics are overwhelming for those who do have literacy by that age and those who don't and the consequences for those students," Ms. Hammond said including delinquency and drug use.
There are 175 communities in the United States that are using a system like this one, the Indian River County school system being spear headed by superintendent Fran Adams.
The road to this will not be easy, but Ms. Hammond says that it will require everyone to make it a reality.
"We call it the 'Moon Shot Movement' because of President Kennedy's ambition to get to the moon," she said. "He didn't have a blueprint; he didn't have an idea of how they would get there. They used the things that worked and did more of that and the things that didn't, they did less of. Leadership never let go of the goal, that's what we have to do."
It will start with getting children ready for kindergarten, Ms. Hammond said.
"What was ready a year ago is no longer ready for school," she said. "We will all have to get our hands dirty and not only understand the vision but what it is going to take to get there."
There are several ways to help the literacy goal including volunteering to tutor or mentor a child, help young families to improve their child's readiness for kindergarten and work with community to eliminate 'summer slide' so children don't have to play 'catch up' when they return to school.
For more information on Moonshot Moment, visit www.moonshotmoment.org.