Early Childhood Faculty Present at Oxford University
Kate & Lydia presenting at World Literacy Summit

(From left to right) Lydia Siddique, academic specialist, and Kate Surmeier, counselor, present Our Alphabet at the 2023 World Literacy Summit, April 2–4.

Early Childhood Faculty Present at Oxford University

This spring, Lab’s Early Childhood Faculty Academic Specialist Lydia Siddique and First-grade Counselor Kate Surmeier presented their literacy learning project Our Alphabet at the 2023 World Literacy Summit (WLS) at Oxford University on April 2–4.

Earlier this school year, Siddique’s and Surmeier’s Our Alphabet project had first graders create classroom syllabaries as part of literacy learning at Lab. They introduced first graders to the work of Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (1923–2014), a pioneering Ivory Coast artist who committed his life to studying and memorializing his native Bété language by creating a syllabary depicting daily life on a series of cardboard squares.

Siddique and Surmeier designed a curriculum for students to create their own classroom syllabary that—like Bouabré’s work—marries visual imagery, phonological awareness, and identity keywords. The pieces portrayed images of Bouabré’s community, rituals, and everyday objects that represented the letters and sounds of the language. The alphabet card exhibit was on display in December at the Earl Shapiro Hall second floor east side gallery.

Every year, WLS brings together leaders from 85 countries to advocate, champion, and educate “on the vital importance of improving literacy levels across the globe.”

“We see this presentation as an opportunity for [Lab] to demonstrate its leadership, innovation, and commitment to scholarship in the field of literacy while also highlighting our commitment to honoring diversity, learning experientially, and promoting social justice,” Siddique says.

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