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Dawson County literacy initiative recognized

POSTED: December 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.

State representatives recommended Dawson County be named Georgia's 71st Certified Literate Community when the group toured the county last week. The official designation will be announced in February.

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Dawson County has long worked towards creating a completely literate community, aiming to make basic education easily accessible to all citizens through local organizations, such as READ Inc. and the Adult Learning Center.


The state recognized these efforts by declaring Dawson County as Georgia’s 71st county to be named a Certified Literate Community Program participant on Nov. 20.


A certified literate participant is an individual or group addressing literacy issues within the county.  


“This is a landmark occasion,” said Sue Tennant, executive director of READ Inc. “We worked diligently on obtaining this status.”


According to Tennant, all the counties surrounding Dawson have already earned the much sought after status. 


“We really needed this,” she said.


In order to be deemed a county worthy of the status, several criteria must be met even before a county can apply; including, establishing a non-profit organization committed to fighting illiteracy, establishing a board and organizational structure for the non-profit organization and conducting community-wide need assessments.


After a county meets all the criteria and applies for the CLCP status, representatives from the state conduct a site visit to evaluate the county’s commitment to literacy.


The representatives then decide whether or not to recommend approval to the State Board Technical College System of Georgia.


“Dawson County passed their site visit with flying colors,” said Billie Izard, executive director for CLCP.


The state representatives recommended approval to the State Board Technical College System of Georgia. The official designation will be announced in February, when the board next meets.


Izard is proud that another county in Georgia has earned certified literate status.


“The CLCP status shows that a county is involved in the education of their community. The key to CLCP is to change the culture of a community to value education. It encourages those who have dropped out of school to come back, and those who are in school to stay there,” said Izard.


Literacy advocates all over Dawson County are thrilled about receiving the CLCP status.


“It’s an excellent opportunity for the entire community of Dawson County. This is a collaborative program, and as we move forward, the citizens of Dawson County will be the true winners,” said Carol Tyger, president of READ.


“It’s a wonderful thing for Dawson County and will help us in the future as we go through the process of promoting literacy and attracting more businesses to come to our community,” said Lake Gibson, vice president of READ.


“I taught school for over 30 years, so I know how important it is to receive a good education. To be recognized by the state for our work is just such an honor. We could not have achieved it, if it were not for Sue Tennant’s marvelous efforts,” said Julie Hughes Nix, county commissioner and READ board member.


Tennant believes that with the continued support of the Dawson County Board of Education, the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Dawsonville and other governing bodies, Dawson County will achieve the goal of creating a fully literate community.


“This is a state-wide collaborative effort to mobilize every resource available to a community that functions within state certification guidelines.  It unites major sectors to achieve these difficult goals,” said Tennant.  


The status not only bolsters Dawson County’s efforts to increase literacy, but also serves as an attractive incentive for incoming businesses.


“From this day forward, when a perspective employer looking for a literate workforce comes to our county and meets with the chamber of commerce or the development authority, they will learn that Dawson County has a comprehensive literacy program addressing literacy at all levels in its county,” explained Tennant. “It’s a valuable asset.”


For more information about the CLCP status or literacy efforts in Dawson County, contact Sue Tennant at (404) 409-8838.


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