National Early Language and Literacy Expert Trains Savannah Educators and Leaders on Critical Literacy Skills for Young Learners

(SAVANNAH, Ga.) Learning early language skills helps children make social and emotional connections and affects their ability to communicate, engage socially and regulate emotions.

(L-R) Arianne Weldon, director, Get Georgia Reading Campaign, Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College & State University; Jamie Thomas, Early Language Professional Development specialist, Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College & State University; Emily Rubin, director, Communication Crossroads, Inc.; Lizann Roberts, executive director, Coastal Georgia Indicators Coalition; Bernadette Ball-Oliver, executive director of Middle Schools, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System; Caroline Lacksen, Early Literacy Professional Development specialist, Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College & State University.

Developing this skill in young learners is one of the Savannah area’s biggest challenges, according to the Coastal Georgia Indicators Coalition (CGIC), a Savannah area collaboration of resource agencies that address overall health and well-being while leveraging resource initiatives. The Coalition has determined that the community must seek opportunities to work alongside the school system in improving early language skill development to foster more positive life skills.

On Jan. 11, the CGCI hosted 84 local leaders and educators who work with Savannah area Pre-K and Kindergarten-aged children for a training session with national early language and literacy expert, Emily Rubin.

Presented by Coastal Georgia Indicators Collation, United Way of the Coastal Empire and the Savannah Chatham County Public School System, the all-day event held at the Southwest Branch of Live Oak Public Libraries provided a tool kit for educators to help to identify early indicators of language and how to interact with children to help with their communications.

“I’m passionate about the relationship between engagement and language development. Did you know that when you’re interacting with children, you are producing this awesome chemical called oxytocin? When you produce it, it actually triggers oxytocin in the child. This is an incredible hormone that breaks through the blood-brain barrier and gets children to grow their brains and develop their language. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so exhausting interacting with children because we’re doing all that – but boy, did we know that we are brain architects!” Rubin said.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the first three years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing, are the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills. The NIH says these skills develop best in a world that is rich with sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others.

“This training opportunity gave us the platform we need to engage a wider audience within the community,” said CGIC Executive Director Lizann Roberts. “It shines a light on the importance of language skills in a child’s overall development while also providing educators with the tools they need to help young learners who may be struggling with language development.”

Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP is the Director of Communication Crossroads, Inc. in Decatur, GA. She is a speech-language pathologist specializing in social emotional engagement and its relationship with language development, learning and positive outcomes. As a former adjunct faculty member and lecturer at Yale University, she served as a member of their Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic. She has also served as an instructor for the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department of Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts where she has developed courses to prepare graduate level students for addressing the needs of children with autism and their families. She participated as a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Ad Hoc Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a committee charged with developing guidelines related to the role of speech-language pathologists in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of ASD.

Rubin’s publications have focused on early identification of autism, contemporary intervention models, and programming guidelines focused on the social emotional engagement of all learners. She is a co-developer of the Social Emotional Engagement – Knowledge and Skills (SEE-KS) professional learning approach, an approach that provides freely accessible tools for measuring learner engagement, enhancing engagement in everyday settings and academic instruction, and empowering educators to sustain the work through peer to peer mentorship.

Rubin provides support for the development of community viable models of staff training. Her focus is on building the capacity of school systems and early intervention providers to serve as informed consumers of evidence-based practices. Emily’s professional vision is to empower our public schools with a framework for social emotional engagement and learning that is: 1) ecologically valid to the demands of achieving academic standards, 2) sensitive to the unique needs of students with social learning differences, and 3) can serve as a universal design for learning that benefits all of our students and young children in order to maximize return on professional learning.

Corporate sponsorship for this training is provided by Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and St. Thomas Thrift Store.

EVENT PARTNERS: Coastal Georgia Indicators Coalition, United Way of the Coastal Empire, Live Oak Public Libraries, Get Georgia Reading, Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy and Savannah Chatham Public School System.

Emily Rubin
Get Ga Reading
Deal Center
St Thomas Thrift Store Facebook:

The Coastal Georgia Indicators Coalition (CGIC) is comprised of community members and advocates working together through a comprehensive coordinated approach for planning accountability. It serves as a collaboration of resource agencies addressing overall health and well-being while leveraging resource initiatives. The purpose of the Coalition is to improve community well-being by engaging and leading the community to work collectively in its development of strategic priorities that guide policy, programs and resource allocation. CGIC is the responsible organization for the development, and with partners, the implementation of the Chatham Community Blueprint. CGIC has strength and capacity related to leadership, management, systems and partnerships.

The mission of the United Way of the Coastal Empire is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of community. The nonprofit organization provides a safety net for the most vulnerable and pathways for upward mobility so everyone in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties thrive. With upward mobility in mind, United Way of the Coastal Empire intends to help build a ready & resilient workforce and a better future for our youngest citizens through READ UNITED, a year-round series of early language and literacy development programs, and strategic partnerships to support SCCPSS and all school systems in their four-county service area. For more information, please visit

Marjorie Young
Carriage Trade Public Relations® Inc.

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