EEO and Steve Koven rock literacy and music

University professor shares how music and reading go hand-in-hand during Eleuthera school’s tour

Exceptional Education Outreach (EEO) and educator and jazz musician Steve Koven came together to take literacy and music to Eleuthera students.

Koven, a York University and Centennial College professor, recently toured EEO Centers at Emily G. Petty, Emma C. Cooper and Green Castle Primary Schools, along with the Ministry of Education’s Center for Exceptional Learning and shared how music and reading go hand in hand.

“Children love to sing, move, and be creative, and I really think this an essential part of pedagogy,” said Koven, who is passionate about music education, supporting and mentoring students and professionals in the field. 

During the workshops, students learned to combine vowel sounds at various musical keys and set music and song to children’s stories like “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”.

Koven said teachers should be inspired to use music as a tool.

“While children learn to read, they should be encouraged to take it to the next level by singing the words, and then it becomes a part of the creative process of learning. We all can see the value of this and the kids can appreciate it,” he said.

Each workshop creates unique performances and frames an experience the students never forget.

EEO promotes the engagement of all five senses in literacy and learning.

According to EEO officials, studies show that this type of learning engagement not only increases the chances that students retain what they learn, but that they also become lovers of learning.

The purpose of EEO, which services students on Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, is simple – it allows each student to reach his/her full potential. That could mean for college or workforce readiness, or basic literacy and personal skill development for vocational work.

The program is ideal for any student needing learning support, Tiffany Bain, EEO teacher previously told The Nassau Guardian, and assists students who are “falling a little under the crack” and even those with varying intellectual abilities are able to avail themselves of the help needed.

As a school partner, she said EEO works typically during school hours and offers student “pull-outs” where students come to their centers on the school campus during the school day, for support.

In some cases, they also provide “push-ins” where an EEO teacher is able to support students in their regular classes, taught by the school’s teachers. They also offer summer programming. Some centers extend their services to after school as well.

“EEO serves as a community partner in education and support. Schools make referrals for students that need learning support, based on assessment. We then do interventions,” said Bain.

The focus is on literacy development as so much of learning is rooted in the core skill. To support the growth, students also have access to vision, auditory and neurological screenings to help them rule out other factors impacting students’ ability to grasp different concepts.

EEO currently has nine centers on Eleuthera and Harbour Island with 197 students receiving interventions and another 47 supported and monitored because they have met the reading success benchmark.

Over the years, EEO has enrolled and supported a student population that has reached up to 250 students.

Student enrollment is from primary through high school.

Believing that every child should be given learning opportunities to reach their full potential, EEO, founded in 1999, and directed by Lang Hudepohl, has a mission to provide special education and literacy outreach programs to students and their communities on Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells.

Hudephol, who lived on Harbour Island, recognized the need for learning support, so students have the best opportunities, as not all schools have learning support to access learning at the same level.

Hudepohl was passionate about creating a sustainable and impactful program which centers each student as the main character of their educational story.

The project’s vision for the islands is to ensure that children with special needs have access to innovative educational programs to help them reach their full academic and personal potential.

Collaborating with Bahamian and American educational organizations, EEO strives to equip teachers, parents and volunteers with skills and materials to assess students and remediate learning challenges. The efforts they say will result in a resourceful, student-supportive, sustainable education system for Eleuthera.

Intense reading interventions using a multisensory approach isn’t the only service that EEO provides for its students. Students also benefit from vision, auditory and neurological screenings to identify any obstacles which hamper achieving maximum personal and academic success. EEO also facilitates community awareness, education and capacity development for exceptional education through year-round workshops for teachers, parents and families.

EEO’s special outreach and literacy development program, which has created a base model for special education intervention in the Family Islands, was launched under a shade tree at a picnic table in the playground at Harbour Island All Age School with only 15 students.

EEO programs include individualized instruction, regular auditory and visual screenings, therapist evaluations, parent workshops and a teacher seminar series which builds understanding of learning differences and how communities can help children reach their full potential.

Since its founding, EEO has helped more than 2,000 children.

EEO is a donor-funded program. It is through sponsorship, partnerships and contributions of donors with a passion for education that the program has been able to grow and expand over the past years.

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