See also: Contact DELL-D
“DELL-D” stands for “Developing Early Language and Literacy in Danville." DELL-D is a 3-year, multi-million dollar project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education through its Early Reading First (ERF) program. We are one of 32 projects funded this year, and the only one funded this year in Illinois!
The overall purpose of Early Reading First is to provide intensive support (professional development, materials, technical assistance) to a small number of early childhood classrooms, with a focus on helping young children learn emergent literacy skills that will later help them to become good readers and to do well in school. The primary focus is children who are at risk for not being as successful as they could be because of family income or other factors that may interfere with their learning or development.
The primary assumption of Early Reading First is that working with teachers to achieve classrooms consistent with what is known from research about the best approaches to early literacy instruction is the best way to improve children’s chances of success in school. Early childhood faculty from the University of Illinois, assisted by DELL-D staff hired through the grant, are providing intensive support and training to teachers in 16 early childhood classes in Danville, and also evaluating the effects of the program on teachers and children. All classes use the TROPHIES emergent literacy curriculum.
- To create language and literacy rich preschool environments
- To provide intensive professional development on evidence-based literacy and language strategies to all teaching staff and to support teacher implementation of practices and curriculum through weekly coaching
- To assess and monitor all children attending the participating programs for language development and emerging literacy skills
- To provide a tiered intervention model for children with delays in language and emerging literacy skills. The first intervention tier is the classroom curriculum, the second tier includes small group tutoring and the third tier is individual tutoring
- To support family engagement with literacy at home, through family center visits and home-school activities
- To use assessment and observational data to promote continuous improvement in child and teacher behavior.
Dr. Susan Fowler
Dr. Jeanette McCollum
- Principal Investigator: Dr. Jeanette McCollum is a Professor Emeritus in the Special Education department at UIUC, who serves as the “Jack of All Trades” on the grant. She has been an avid reader since childhood and also worked on the STORIES project, which educates teachers to use emergent literacy teaching skills with young children.
- Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Susan Fowler is a Professor at the UIUC Department of Special Education, and co-principal investigator on several federal and state funded grants. She has co-authored several early childhood curriculum and literacy-based articles including the SPARK Curriculum for Early Childhood.
- Project Coordinator: Dr. Susan Yorde earned her PhD in Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has taught in early childhood special education and inclusive early childhood classrooms and worked in early intervention settings in central IL and on the coast of VA. Most recently, she served as the Faculty Director of the Berea College Child Development Lab in Berea, KY.
Dr. Angel Fettig
- Family Liaison Specialist: Sandy Hufford is a full-time family liaison for the DELL-D project and manages the Family Center in Danville. She has an extensive background in working with families and children. More specifically, her experience includes 15 years directing at the KinderCare Learning Centers and 10 years working with the Healthy Families Illinois Program.
- Office Specialist/Main Contact: Alissa Cohorst helps facilitate the business operations involved with the grant, and communication between project members and participants.
- Project Specialist: Dr. Angel Fettig earned her PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has taught preschool for two years and had the opportunity to work on the STORIES project under Dr. Jeanette McCollum. As a doctoral student, she worked on the DELL-D Project as a coach and tutoring program supervisor. Currently, she is managing the tutoring program through training and supervision, and also oversees the testing program and data collection components of the project.
UIUC Faculty and Project Leaders
Dr. Amy Santos
Dr. Tweety Yates
Dr. Micki Ostrosky
- Faculty Project Management Member: Dr. Micki Ostrosky is a Professor in the Special Education department at UIUC, and co-principal investigator on several federal and state funded grants. She is currently the principal investigator for the “Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning” and “Evaluation of Great Expectations Initiative”.
- Faculty Project Management Member: Dr. Amy Santos is a faculty member in the UIUC Department of Special Education. A former preschool teacher, Dr. Santos focuses on issues that relate to the impact of culture, race and language in the delivery of services to young children with and without disabilities (birth to five years old) and their families. She is on the editorial board for several early childhood journals, including Associate Editor for “Young Exceptional Children”.
- Faculty Project Management Member: Dr. Tweety Yates is a UIUC Special Education Department faculty member, and also the co-project director for the Center on Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. She has also coordinated the SPARK literacy grant for three years and does training around embedding literacy into everyday routines.
Master’s Graduate Research Assistant(s):
- Lori Acree
Doctoral Graduate Research Assistant(s):
- Youngshil Paek
DELL -D Coaches:
- Dot Gee
- Barb Price
- Elizabeth Schutte
DELL -D Tutors:
- Lori Acree
- Susan Crane
- Sondra Hess
- Janice Mann
- Maurita Keyser
- Cristy Sackett
- Child Development Center (CDC), Danville Area Community College (DACC)
The CDC is a non-profit organization licensed by the IL Dept. of Child and Family Services for 74 children ages 15 months to 5 years, 52 weeks/year, 5 days/week, from 6:45 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Two preschool classrooms of 20 children each are participating in DELL-D. Each classroom has a Head Teacher who is assisted by half-time student workers, most of whom are in early childhood or elementary education.
- Head Start
The Head Start (HS) Program, begun in 1965, is one of the original programs within the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency. HS collaborates with District 118 on a Preschool for All grant in 3 classrooms, as well as with the ELC in a full-day child-care classroom. Three full-day classrooms are participating in DELL-D.
- Pre-K Program, District #118
District #118 (the eligible school district), City of Danville, has had a state-funded, 9-month early childhood program since 1985. All teachers are state certified in Early Childhood. The EC program recently received a new state grant under Preschool for All, expanding its classrooms to 17, serving 680 children. Four classrooms (8 classes) at East Park Elementary School participate in DELL-D; two of these classes currently serve children with disabilities. Beginning in Fall 2007, children with disabilities will be fully included in all classrooms.
DELL-D staff are providing intensive professional development and on-going in-class Literacy Coaching, all focused on implementing the curriculum and integrating literacy learning throughout the classroom. During the first year, teachers are receiving 50 hours of intensive training through weekend training institutes. Each teacher also receives on-site, weekly technical assistance from a Literacy Coach.
DELL-D also provides tutoring to small groups of children and to individual children who need more intensive emergent literacy instruction. Tutors work in each classroom twice per week, correlating their lessons with the classroom curriculum. The project also supports a new Family Center, staffed by a Family Liaison who provides multiple opportunities for family education and involvement, targeted toward emergent literacy in children, as well as home visits to families whose children are receiving tutoring. During the summer, DELL-D supports parent-child literacy activities for children who are in 9-month programs.
Danville, with a 2005 population of 33,000, is located 35 minutes from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where the DELL-D Project is headquartered, and is the county seat of Vermilion County, population 84,000.
Danville is on an old fur-trading road between Lake Michigan and the South. Irish and Eastern European immigrants, as well as African-Americans, came in the late 1800s to work in the mines. Danville evolved into a vibrant blue-collar community that easily switched from mining to manufacturing. When the large GM plant closed in the 1990s, Danville and Vermilion County went into an economic slide. The 11.3% poverty rate in Illinois in 2002 compares to the county's rate of 14.1%; the 15.3% Illinois child poverty rate compares to 19.3% in Vermilion County.
In 2004-2005, 64% of students in Danville School District 118 were low income. In 3rd grade, only 57% met the Illinois Learning Standards for reading. High school graduation rates that year, at 70.4%, were considerably lower than in Illinois as a whole (87.4%); for low income students, the rate was even lower (53.8%). Teen pregnancy rates, at 16.4% in 2004, have consistently exceeded the state rate (at 9.9%). The K-12 school population of over 6,000 students is 55% Caucasian, 38% African-American, 6% Hispanic and 1% Asian; few (1-2%) are non English-speaking.
The purpose of the DELL-D Project is to make a lasting difference in Danville through working with early childhood teachers to improve the early literacy and language skills of Danville's young children by providing rich, meaningful, intentional literacy and language experiences.