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October 9, 2001

Illinois Joins the Largest Early Childhood Classroom in History
HeadsUp! Reading promotes literacy statewide

SPRINGFIELD -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan announced that Illinois is one of seven states offering HeadsUp! Reading, a groundbreaking, distance-learning course that provides teachers with the latest research on how children learn to read and write. With 32 down link sites throughout the state, participants will join the largest early childhood "classroom" in history.

Governor and Mrs. Ryan are committed to making sure that all Illinois children read well by the end of third grade. This collaborative partnership is one way to meet this goal by providing cutting-edge training to early childhood educators and staff statewide to ensure that teachers are prepared and equipped with the skills to develop and promote early literacy in young children.

"I am delighted that we are able to bring the HeadsUp! Reading program to Illinois," said Mrs. Ryan. "We are committed to providing early childhood professionals with the tools they can use to help our children become successful."

HeadsUp! Reading, a program under the "Futures for Kids" initiative, compliments existing programs implemented by the Ryan administration that impact the quality of care for Illinois' youngest citizens. For example the Quality Counts campaign, also under the "Futures for Kids" initiative, is a literacy-based program providing literacy materials and activities to early childhood programs throughout the state.

HeadsUp! Reading also offers a unique opportunity for early childhood educators to continue their professional growth, which may allow participants to take part in Great START and/or TEACH.

Nationally, HeadsUp! Reading is a project of the nonprofit National Head Start Association, in collaboration with RISE Learning Solutions, a nonprofit distance learning organization, and the Council for Professional Recognition, a nonprofit group that supports and promotes high standards for early childhood educators. In Illinois, the HeadsUp! Reading project is a collaborative effort between First Lady Ryan's "Futures for Kids" initiative, the Department of Human Services, the Illinois Head Start Collaboration Office and the Illinois State Board of Education. HeadsUp! Reading is funded by the Department of Human Services and will be administered by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA).

"The partners in this project share a desire to have every child become a skilled, independent reader by the end of the third grade. Research shows that the process begins at birth - and we are committed to addressing early literacy now. This is an unprecedented collaboration to benefit our youngest children," said Steve BeMiller, executive director of INCCRRA.

Classes air live on Thursdays from 5:45 p.m., and began on October 4, 2001. For information on the location of downlink sites, please call the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies at 1-800-649-1884.


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