News from Dr. Cruz: The power of literacy

Team AISD,

"Literacy can change the trajectory of life." These are wise words from Literacy First Director Dr. Mary Ellen Issacs, and I couldn't agree more. 

The path to educational success is grounded in the ability to read and comprehend the subject matter at hand. Students learn in their own way and at their own pace, and I am proud of the work we are doing to provide individualized support.

The Austin ISD literacy plan aims to strengthen core instruction and ensure all students are reading and writing on grade level. In its first year, the plan is focused on structured independent reading—time for students to actively read, discuss and complete books. 

Certified Academic Language Therapists help level the playing field for language and reading development and offer in-depth assistance to students who need it. We currently have 53 CALTs or therapists in training, with the goal of having a CALT on every campus.

On October 7, AISD is hosting a dyslexia conference, "Empowering the Gift of Dyslexia." The event will convene education leaders, teachers, researchers, parents and advocates to learn about best practices to identify, intervene and support dyslexic learners.

This work comes together—and comes to life—in the classroom. At a recent visit to Barrington Elementary School, second-grade students showcased a book that they wrote and illustrated. The pride on their faces brought back fond memories of my years as an English Language Arts teacher, and I was inspired by the creative ways our teachers are engaging students.

[Included in the email newsletter.] Your work deserves to be celebrated, so in honor of National Literacy Month, I have a special surprise. Reply to this email by Friday, September 16 at 5 p.m. and tell me the name of your favorite book. Everyone who replies will be entered into a raffle for a football signed by NFL superstars, Fozzy Whittaker and Ricky Williams. The winner will be announced next week on my Twitter account.

Good luck, and happy reading! 


Paul Cruz, Ph.D.