Literacy How’s mission is
to empower teachers
to ensure that every child
learns to read by third grade
In July 2009, Margie Gillis, Ed.D. founded Literacy How to bring a decade of knowledge-to-practice research to the classroom. Our vision is to close the achievement gap and raise reading achievement for all students. We transform reading instruction by empowering teachers to ensure that every child learns to read by third grade, building their foundation for a successful future.
Since our founding, Literacy How has advanced teaching and learning by helping thousands of educators in hundreds of schools and districts to use evidence-based practices to succeed.
Children are at the heart of all we do. We believe every child has the right to read.
We know 95% can be taught. Through training, coaching, and mentoring, every teacher working with Literacy How is given the knowledge and skills needed to teach children to read, write, and spell. Most teachers don’t receive this essential preparation in their pre-service or post-graduate training.
Our model is research-based and our approach is values-driven. We are guided by our core values: passion, lifelong learning, professionalism, collaboration, empowerment, and accountability.
“Stamford Public Schools has a long and valued partnership with Literacy How. Under Dr. Gillis’ leadership, the Literacy How mentors bring their expertise of all areas of literacy to our teachers and classrooms. Our teachers identify the modeling of lessons and coaching provided by the mentors as the most beneficial professional development in which they have ever participated.”
—Amy c. Beldotti, Assoc. Superintendent of Teaching & Learning, Stamford Public Schools
A History Rooted in the Science of Reading
Literacy How applies our work with the Early Reading Success Initiative, Mastering Reading Instruction, and the Haskins Literacy Initiative—all begun at Haskins Laboratories—and continues to conduct research.
Shaping Policies that Impact the Achievement Gap
Since 2010, Literacy How has been integrally involved in policy discussions that have helped shape the achievement gap legislation. This partnership between Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), the University of Connecticut, Hill for Literacy, the Commission on Children (now the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors), and the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus has led to legislative and policy changes to ensure that all CT students learn to read by third grade. Literacy How contributed to the implementation of the Connecticut Foundations of Reading Test in 2009 as part of the certification process for pre-service teachers.
In 2011, Literacy How partnered with the CSDE, the Grossman Family Foundation, and the University of Connecticut to conduct a two-year study, “Turning the Curve on CT’s Achievement Gap,” which examined the efficacy of an alternative assessment to the Developmental Reading Assessment. This study led to legislation in 2012 that requires all schools in CT to use a universal screening assessment for K-3 students.
Putting Knowledge into Practice
Subsequent to this study, CSDE funded, and continues to fund, the Connecticut Literacy Model to develop a comprehensive district-wide literacy plan. Margie serves on the leadership team to support the implementation of this model throughout Connecticut; (in over 70 schools as of 2020).
In 2012, Literacy How partnered with Stepping Stones Museum for Children to create the Early Language and Literacy Initiative (ELLI). ELLI is a high quality, year-round, interdisciplinary approach to early childhood education designed to improve school readiness and close the achievement gap with locations in Norwalk and Fairfield.
In 2019, Literacy How, Inc. formally converted to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, opening doors to new partnerships and opportunities to fulfill our mission.
Our Reach: Connecticut and Beyond
To date, Literacy How and Haskins Mentors have provided professional development in 80 Connecticut school districts. The combined team has worked in more than 200 schools and coached over 3,000 teachers during the past 20 years. In addition to partnering with CT schools and districts, the team has provided professional development and coaching to teachers in California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Anne E. Fowler Foundation
In 2010, Margie founded the Anne E. Fowler Foundation to continue the work of her mentor Anne Fowler. The Foundation supports scholarships to teachers for graduate work in reading and language development. The Anne E. Fowler foundation is guided by two core principles—accountability and transparency. We are accountable to our funders and other supporters who entrust us to do what’s best for Connecticut’s children and deliver transparency in our work. As we strive to close Connecticut’s achievement gap—one of the largest in the country—we are dedicated to studying how to ensure that teachers are effective in their use of evidence-based practices and to carrying on Anne E. Fowler and Literacy How’s longstanding vision: to empower teaching excellence so that every child learns to read by third grade.
Meet The team
Margie B. Gillis, Ed.D., CALT, President and Founder
Elke Blanchard, B.S., CALT, IDA-Certified SLDS, Mentor
Mary Ann Cadieux, M.S., Mentor
Christine Cohen, M.A., AIT-AOGPE, Mentor
Joan Cohen, M.S., F/AOGPE, CDT, Consultant, Reading Evaluations
Maureen Durand, M.A., S.Y.C, Mentor-in-Training
Kristen Eilert, B.S.M., Director of Business Development
Kimberly Herard, B.A, Projects Manager
Allison Ibanez, M.A., S.Y.C., CCC-SLP, Mentor
Phyllis Lobo, M.S., Mentor
Wendy North, M.S., C-AOGPE, IDA-Certified SLDS, Mentor
Tara Pagliaro, M.A., CCC-SLP, Ed.S., Mentor
Susan Robison, M.A., Mentor
Lesley Schurmann, B.S., Communications
Kristen Viesselman, M.A. Ed., A/AOGPE, Consultant, Reading Evaluations