At Brownieland Pictures, our mission is to empower nonprofits by expanding their reach and engaging communities through stories that inspire and motivate. We are grateful for the nonprofits who make a difference in our communities every day, and we are honored to partner with some incredible Atlanta organizations. With this in mind, each month in 2021, we will showcase the work of a nonprofit organization with whom we are partners and go behind the scenes to share their story for the greater good!
This month, we are featuring The Atlanta Speech School, an organization we have collaborated with over the years to produce educational videos for various literacy programs. The Atlanta Speech School effects transformative change in the lives of children and adults through three preschools, a k-6 elementary school for children with dyslexia, a clinic offering therapeutic and academic language, literacy and learning services, and partnerships with other organizations. Across all programs, the goal of the Atlanta Speech School is to ensure that each child on campus and every child beyond the campus can acquire the language and literacy foundation necessary for self-determination.
Extending the work beyond the walls of the campus is possible through the School’s Rollins Center for Language and Literacy. This professional development program partners with more than 100 public and private organizations to bring the Atlanta Speech School’s expertise in language and literacy to teachers across the nation. Last year, Brownieland worked with the Rollins Center to produce The Gift, a video that demonstrates the importance of honoring children of immigrants in the classroom by illustrating how teachers can transform instruction to provide an environment specifically supportive of dual language learning by embracing the language gifts of students for whom English may not be the primary language at home. For this moving and informative video, Brownieland earned the 26th Annual Communicator Award of Excellence selected by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts in the Individual Education Category. Watch The Gift below to learn how educators can value this gift and bring it into the classroom, integrating it in everything they do to encourage, celebrate and teach dual-language-learning children from the first time they enter a classroom.
Another noteworthy video series produced by Brownieland and the Atlanta Speech School begins with The Promise, which was featured at a 2016 White House conference on education. Rooted in the science of reading and the importance of relationships to building pre-literacy foundations for learning, this video features children asking the viewer to make a promise to never silence children, but instead to listen and to teach them to listen.
The sequel to this award-winning video, Every Opportunity, went viral upon its release. This time focused on the learning experience of kindergarten through third graders. The video features a child who goes through his day being ignored, yelled at, and silenced. The story shifts direction halfway through the video, illustrating how changes in adult behavior can reinforce a child’s ability to learn and flourish. The Promise and Every Opportunity were each created around research from leading brain development and literacy experts about what is needed to construct the reading brain. As stated on the Cox Campus website: “It is crucial that children birth to 8 receive early social and emotional engagement, and intentional development of language skills, vocabulary, and comprehension to support young children in learning to read and older students in reading to learn. There is a rising concern across the country, and increasing effort, to attack the nation’s illiteracy crisis. The tragic truth is that only 36 percent of all children in the U.S. have the ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade.” We continue to be humbled by the success of this piece and how it has resonated with people. Watch the full video below.
Throughout the years, the Atlanta Speech School and Brownieland Pictures have collaborated to create various virtual learning platforms. For the Montag Family Community Lecture last year, Brownieland worked with the Atlanta Speech School to create a Virtual Book Study spotlighting Dr. Maryanne Wolf’s book, Reader Come Home: The Deep Reading Brain in a Digital World. The study included Dr. Wolf’s personal messages along with roundtable discussions featuring scholars and experts from the Atlanta Speech School. According to the Cox Campus website, Dr. Maryanne Wolf and other researchers have determined how we can end our country’s illiteracy epidemic and construct each child’s reading brain. Having made popular the awareness that reading brains do not naturally occur, Dr. Wolf calls readers to action in her book Reader, Come Home with a warning and a message of hope: construct children’s deep reading brains through print and use technology to fuel rather than endanger them – not just for literacy, but for democracy.
The Rollins Center for Language and Literacy’s Cox Campus is a professional development platform that offers free, research-based online courses for teachers, with the intent of eradicating illiteracy by freely distributing science-backed language and literacy instruction for adults who work with children from birth to third grade. Among the suites of instructional videos, Brownieland and the Speech School’s Rollins Center worked together to create videos for Talk With Me Baby (TWMB), a collaboration of six leadership organizations working to bring the concept of language nutrition into public awareness. The focus of the videos is to educate caregivers on the importance of talking with babies every day in an effort to close the word gap and expand the opportunities of each baby born. Watch one of the TWMB videos featured on Cox Campus to learn more.
While up to that point, Rollins’ Cox Campus content was designed primarily for educators, Covid made it clear very early that something needed to be done to bring the benefits of Cox Campus directly to families. Cox Campus meant that Rollins already had a globally-accessible learning platform fully designed – a benefit not afforded most academic institutions designed for children – and in Brownieland, they already had a partner who could ensure video learning was of the highest possible quality.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while schools everywhere were closing, the Atlanta Speech School contacted Brownieland with an idea: they would create Pop-Up Early Learning, a free online platform offering preschool experiences for all families with children eighteen months to five years of age – regardless of address. The program attracted adults of preschool-aged children all over the world – all desperate for structured learning to continue by whatever means necessary. By late summer, the Atlanta Speech School had expanded family offerings with another virtual program, Roadmap to Reading, a suite of lessons and resources for K-3rd teachers to ensure they had guidance, ideas, and support to evaluate, reach and teach every child when they returned to school in the fall. The range of summer offerings was presented as the Atlanta Speech School’s Cox Campus Shine Your Light. In addition to filming – usually remotely – all of the summer offerings for children and adults, Brownieland produced the inspiring video trailer featuring “This Little Light of Mine” as sung by Atlanta’s own Tim Miller of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.