Freedom through Literacy

Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” That freedom comes from knowledge, discernment, word recognition and comprehension. Illiteracy not only robs the mind’s ability to grow and learn, but it is directly linked to crime and failure. The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.

We must read to our children, encourage them to read and provide books to create a love of reading. You cannot start early enough because literacy is such a vital part of a child’s formative years. By age four, children from professional families know approximately 1,100 words, while children from low-income families only know 500 words.

I was blessed to be raised by grandparents who valued reading. My grandmother, whom I affectionately call Big-Mama, loved to go to garage sales. Big-Mama, who possessed an eighth grade diploma, encouraged me to read and gave me money to buy books at these garage sales. My grandfather, Paw-Paw, had a third grade education and signed his name with an X because he could not read nor write. However, he would listen to me read for hours. He once told me, “LaTonya, if you can read, you will be able to go anywhere in the world.” Paw-Paw, who died several years ago, would not be surprised that my ability to read has provided me the opportunity to go many places in the world. (It has not improved the fact that I am geographically challenged and get lost quite often.) Seriously, I strongly believe that my love for reading and my experiences with quality teachers who had high expectations made all of the difference for me to overcome poverty.

Please join Team Lufkin ISD by encouraging your child, grandchild, church youth, neighbor, and/or friend to participate in the numerous reading programs occurring throughout our district and community.  We must create an environment that embraces literacy if we want our next generation to truly be free.



Published by drgoffney

Dr. LaTonya Goffney was named Lufkin ISD Superintendent in 2013. A native of Coldspring, Dr. Goffney began her career as a language arts teacher in Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD. Additionally, she served as assistant principal and principal before serving as superintendent at Coldspring-Oakhurst for five years. Dr. Goffney earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English, a Master of Education degree in administration, and a Doctorate of Education degree in Educational Leadership, all from Sam Houston State University. In her new role as Superintendent of Lufkin ISD, Dr. Goffney has focused on building community support. She has established an Education Foundation to enhance educational opportunities for all students through innovative teacher grants, a Strategic Planning group involving more than 100 community members and created a Hispanic advisory committee called the Nuestras Madres to connect with the Hispanic mothers in the district. She implemented the Panther Community Forums, which are quarterly meetings to address topics with the community and parents. Dr. Goffney began the Team Lufkin ISD Student Ambassadors, a high school student advisory group to the superintendent. Annually, she hosts Lufkin ISD Evento en Español to inform the Hispanic community of educational opportunities. Dr. Goffney was the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award selected by the faculty of Sam Houston State University College of Education. She was named as one of only 22 members of the 2012-2013 Class of Phi Delta Kappa International Emerging Leaders. The PDK Emerging Leaders program recognizes top educators from across the world. She currently serves on the following civic boards: Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce, The Coalition, and Angelina County Economic Development. She is president-elect of the Texas Council of Women School Executives and was recently elected as recording secretary to the Texas Association of Black School Educators. Dr. Goffney also serves on the Executive Board of the Texas Association of School Administrators. Dr. Goffney is married to Joseph Goffney. They have two children, Joseph, Jr., 14, and Joslyn, 10. Dr. Goffney and her husband, Joseph, have co-authored a book titled All is Well as a tribute to their special needs son. Their story has been featured in several local magazines.

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