The Selkregg Community Engagement & Learning Award encourages, rewards and inspires UAA faculty to creatively engage their students in learning and research that benefits the students and the community at large. Kathryn Ohle, early childhood education professor, is this year’s recipient. Her community partners are Unite for Literacy and Head Start.
Professor Ohle’s project “Supporting the Preservation of Native Languages and Encouraging Early Literacy with Children’s Books” seeks to provide children’s books to families, children and teachers in Alaska Native languages through the use of a free digital library with translated texts, as delivered through UniteForLiteracy.com.
Linguistically unique educational needs are especially prominent in Alaska, as Native students currently have lower rates in literacy achievement and higher rates of high school dropouts than any other group of students. The need to preserve Alaska Native languages might be even greater, for the average Alaska Native tongue has fewer than 1,000 speakers, the majority of whom are over the age of 70.
Ohle’s work with language preservation and early literacy is based on recommendations from the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council. Promoting whole family learning and speaking, with a focus on early childhood literacy, is a best practice for reinforcing Alaska Native languages and culture.
For more information about the Selkregg Award, please visit uaa.alaska.edu/engage.