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An Oakland parent’s story

Like many parents during the pandemic, Viveca Ycoy-Walton went from being a mom one day to a mom-slash-fulltime teacher the next. As she would sit with her young son, Karter, and go over his work, she found herself wanting to be able to help him more.

“I developed a sense of, ‘I need to know more’ because as I was teaching my son, I was relearning,” Viveca said. “The way he’s learning is so different than what I experienced. So when I heard about the institute, I jumped on it.”

Viveca and her wife, Stephisha Ycoy-Walton, recently completed a Family Literacy Institute hosted by FIA and Education for Change Public Schools (EFC). Over four weeks, families built knowledge around EFC’s science-based approach to reading for students, as well as reading standards and achievement milestones, while also learning strategies families can use at home to get their child on grade level.


Viveca (left), Stephisha, and Karter at the literacy institute graduation ceremony.

The goal is to get every EFC student – 100 percent – reading at grade level. During that time, Karter’s reading scores also improved, moving from a yellow to a green. In a short amount of time, Karter, a third-grader at Cox Academy, is now reading at grade level.

“I sat him down and did an extra 30 minutes of reading with him,” Viveca said. “I did the book walks. I did everything that they taught us, learned how to time him to see his words per-minute. I worked with him. He literally changed his literacy for the better this trimester while I’ve been ‘trialing and erroring’ the information I’ve been learning in this institute. It’s been amazing.”

At the end of April, Viveca, Stephisha and Karter were all celebrating at the literacy institute graduation ceremony with dozens of other EFC families. Viveca even took the stage to give an inspiring call to action.


VIDEO: Click the image to watch Viveca and EFC parent Cesar Treviño give the call to action at the FIA/EFC Family Literacy Institute graduation.

“I know you are just like me and care so much about our children, if they are even going to have an opportunity to go to college,” Viveca said from the stage at the graduation ceremony, speaking to the other parents. “And we know that reading is fundamental to that.”

Viveca noticed that when she first started doing the book walks with Karter, he would respond to questions with one or two-word answers. After some time and prodding from his mom, he started getting excited about reading. “Now instead of us asking him questions, he comes to us to tell us what he has read, (telling me) ‘Mom, you want to know what happened in this chapter?’”

Viveca has also noticed a spark Karter has now about reading that wasn’t there before. The family has a new way of reading together, they call it “a book act” where they act out a chapter after Karter has read it. “He has so much fun,” Viveca said. “He gives us titles and roles. He’s engaging more, and that’s exactly what we wanted.”

During the institute, Viveca led some breakout sessions for other parents. She’s also learning how to be a leader and encouraging other parents to follow her example and step into their power.

“I tell the parents, ‘pay attention and ask for all of the resources,’” Viveca said. “I used them, and my son is now reading at grade level. He’s even excelling now, the teacher said he’s moving forward. It has been a thousand percent helpful.”

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