Advancing her district’s mission for whole child literacy across all grade levels is a quest Flora Encarnacao, the Superintendent of Schools for the Kearny School District in New Jersey, achieves with great purpose. Ms. Encarnacao is a 2022 recipient of Learning Ally’s Winslow Coyne Reitnouer Excellence in Education Award, an award that recognizes exemplary educators.
Nominated for her pedagogical knowledge on various literacy programming initiatives, Ms. Encarnacao is a compassionate and respected administrator and teacher known for her effectiveness in addressing students’ academic, social and emotional needs, and for her years of research, experience, and mastery of ‘what works’ to improve literacy for all.
When evaluating programming, Ms. Encarnacao looks for product qualities that follow the Readers and Writers Workshop model and those that address collaboration and discourse among students. She is a proponent of accessible and culturally-diverse texts that covers a wide range of personal interests. She believes in building up classroom libraries to make a vast selection of books available, including accessible curriculum, all types of literature, and many genres to broaden students’ reading experiences and to make reading enjoyable.
“As students get older, it can be hard to get them to enjoy reading, especially if it is a struggle for them,” she says. "Which is why access to Learning Ally’s Audiobook Solution across all grade levels for all students, including middle and high school, is a terrific resource.”
“Students struggle for varied reasons. It is up to the educators to find out why and to find another way, another format, another approach to help them become successful. Listening through technology is very appealing to many students, and for those that struggle, a great way to unlock the door to reading. The human-read audiobooks are a very enjoyable experience in real story-telling,” says Ms. Encarnacao.
She believes computer robotic voices can be a distraction for struggling readers, and human-read audiobooks are pleasing to the ear. “The reader can immerse themselves in the content and characters of the story without the frustration of trying to decode words. It is a game changer for students trying to learn during the pandemic, and especially for those who are dyslexic, visually-impaired and ESL. We have seen students who hated to read cultivate a love of reading. We’ve observed a rise in their personal libraries and book selections. Parents call us excited about the ease of accessibility of texts/novels for their children. Most importantly, we’ve prevented learning gaps and learning down time. Our students feel good about themselves as learners. This is our district goal of whole child literacy at its best.”
On behalf of the Learning Ally organization, we congratulate Flora Encarnacao for her exemplary service to improve literacy for all learners.