Charleston Area Author’s Memoir Inspires Second Book and Literacy Program

Shaytee Gadson

South Carolina author Shaytee Gadson of the acclaimed memoir, Hallelujah! In Hollywood: A True Hollywood Story, which is endorsed by Academy Award winning actress Susan Sarandon and featured on the Houston Independent School District News website, has announced plans for his second book and a collaboration that will help high school students.

Inspired by his visit to South Early College High School in Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in the nation, the Hollywood native wants students to embrace their natural writing talents in order tell their own stories. The book of short stories will feature not only Gadson’s work but the original literary work of teenagers. They will write about issues that plague teens and topics of interest for urban high school students.

“It’s not that children don’t like to read; the disconnect happens when they find themselves being forced to read content that has no relevance to their daily lives,” Gadson said. “However, when they themselves become creators of the content they read, you have introduced new connoisseurs of literature, out into the world. Now, that’s what I call Word Perfect.”

Gadson has teamed up with veteran HISD English teacher, Victoria “Vickee” Gray, who will act as a writing coach on the project. In addition, Gadson and Gray believe that in order to close the achievement gaps in schools where African American and Latino students are disproportionately affected, there must be a deliberate focus on laying the foundation with high school freshmen.

According to Gray, Gadson’s work is transformational and groundbreaking. She used his literary work to engage her students which led to the creation of a program for high schools. The literacy program, Focus on the Freshmen, combines their expertise of reading strategies, expository writing, analyzing complex text, using enriched vocabulary in writing and making real world connections that will help students increase their literacy levels and show significant gains in their academic performance.

“I have a proven track record of success working with freshmen who always show significant gains in reading and writing,” Gray said. “Because I have used Gadson’s masterpiece in the classroom, my students’ interest, proficiency and efficiency when employing the core, key elements of English and Language Arts have increased exponentially. Gadson’s book has allowed my students to look at literacy through a focused and engaging fresh new set of eyes.”

Focus on the Freshmen Literacy Program is available to schools that wish to increase their scores on State End of Course exams. The 2019-2020 school year is almost completely booked. For more information contact Shaytee Gadson or Vickee Gray at focusonthefreshmen@gmail.com.

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