The TEENS FOR LITERACY™ program positions students to inspire their peers and communities regarding the importance of literacy. TEENS FOR LITERACY™ has three goals: (1) allow students to take ownership of improving the reading and writing skills of themselves and others; (2) encourage students to pursue education and growing professionally after high school; and (3) to have students consider teaching as a profession by working with younger students in the school.
To achieve this mission, the program has students take the lead by selecting student leaders to host literacy initiatives at their schools and beyond. The Georgia Southern faculty advisors for the TEENS FOR LITERACY™ program also host student visits to the University, referred to as “Shadowing Days,” to allow middle and high school students to see a college campus and encourage their continued education after completing high school.
The following are key elements of TEENS FOR LITERACY™ at each participating school site:
Partnering schools designate a staff or faculty liaison to manage a student leadership team, facilitate implementation of literacy activities, and to communicate resource needs to Georgia Southern.
Student Leadership Team
Partnering schools select students who exhibit leadership capabilities to represent their student body as the TEENS FOR LITERACY™ student leadership team. This team meets regularly to generate and implement ideas for promoting literacy within their schools and within their communities.
The partner liaison creates a series of activities for the students and school to execute based on the student leadership team ideas. Georgia Southern supports the students in the implementation of these activities.
The student leadership team from each partnering school visits one of the three campuses of Georgia Southern University to participate in the Shadowing Day event. This event exposes students to the “college experience.” During this event, students participate in a campus tour, visit a college course, interact with Georgia Southern students, and/or participate in a luncheon to celebrate their achievements as literacy leaders.
Allen Berger, Ed.D.
TEENS FOR LITERACY™ was founded 1989 by Allen Berger, Ed.D., at Miami University in Ohio. Berger started the program with three schools, focusing on providing diverse experiences for the inner-city students of Ohio.
Berger traveled the country promoting TEENS FOR LITERACY™ at conferences and sharing information about the program’s progress. As the program grew, and success was noted, word of the TEENS FOR LITERACY™ framework began to spread and be incorporated in schools and institutions across the United States. In 2002, Berger received a request to help consider how his framework could be used in Dade County, Florida, at a juvenile offenders facility to help incarcerated youth to enhance their reading skills and promote the pursuit of education.
When Berger’s career at Miami University was complete, he gave away almost everything he owned, packed his car with the remaining necessities, and made his way to Savannah, a city he fell in love with after one visit for a reading conference.
Berger taught reading courses at Armstrong State University for four years to assist with a vacancy at the University. During this time, Berger saw the same opportunity to start cultivating a love of reading among teens in the Savannah-Chatham County area and brought TEENS FOR LITERACY™ to Southeast Georgia (2012). Today, the program continues to expand and grow, reaching outside of the Savannah-Chatham County Schools and into the rural areas of Southeast Georgia with the assistance of the College of Education faculty at Georgia Southern University.