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Alanda Posey is making literacy real through representation.

Posey is an instructional coach at Alexander Elementary, but she started her work in education as a kindergarten teacher in Spartanburg County.

“I almost quit teaching my first year,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that children came in and didn’t know their alphabet.”

Instead of quitting, Posey jumped in with both feet. She has since created a curriculum, “Read to the Beat,” that utilizes hip hop to help young readers become more proficient and fluent. She started Soulful Beginnings, an academic service company, and she recently published “Naomi Visits Letter City,” a vocabulary building book that showcases an urban community.

Soulful Beginnings assists with test prep, literacy and more.

“I offer tutoring sessions for children ages 4 – 12, fourth through sixth grade,” she said. “I go to the student to meet with them.”

Posey helps with all subjects and also helps parents advocate for their children within the education system.

“On top of that, I create resources to cater to African-American children, simply because there are not a lot of things out there where they see themselves,” she said. “African-American children are my target audience but I accept all kids.”

The mother of three girls, Posey’s youngest daughter, Naomi, age 4, is represented in “Naomi Visits Letter City.” The book is a unique pathway to vocabulary development that also targets a social studies standard on differentiating between urban, rural and suburban communities.

“This shows what you may see in an urban community,” Posey said. “Every page takes you through a person in the city or place. The other piece is providing a text where children of color can see themselves as a main character.”

Having a female protagonist was also important to Posey.

“It empowers readers to get outside their comfort zone and face adversity with courage,” she said.

Posey hopes the book strikes a chord with young readers but also with parents, who are encouraged to take their kids to explore their own community and beyond. She said too often children in a suburban area have never even been to their neighboring city, much less ventured to different parts of the state. Places and concepts are not concrete because they have not seen them.

“A lot of kids get to travel, but not everybody does,” she said. “Kids can’t make connections to the curriculum because they don’t have the experience of going to a beach or a stadium.”

Learn more about Soulful Beginnings at http://soulfulbeginningsacademy.com. “Naomi Visits Letter City” is available at http://soulfulbeginningsacademy.com/product/naomi-visits-letter-city.

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