Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Department of Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Sheryl Croft

Second Advisor

Dr. Megan Adams

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Clegorne


Providing early literacy training for children is a vital part of establishing the foundation for the learning they will do for the rest of their lives, so it is important that we do the right work from the start. Unfortunately, too many children are still reading below grade level by third grade, and instead of reading to learn new materials, they are still trying to learn to read. At Van Buren Elementary School, there are many challenges for students and teachers. The school’s Free and Reduced lunch rate is over 86%, the students receiving English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services is over 50% of the student enrollment, and academically, more than 70% of all students score below the proficient level on the Georgia Milestones ELA Assessment (The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, 2023, n.p.). One way the school has addressed these challenges is by establishing an after-school literacy camp, the Family Reading Night program. This research focused on the participating school staff and parents' perceptions of the benefits and challenges of the Family Reading Night program. Through a qualitative, phenomenographical study, I collected data from all the participants of the Family Reading Night program. I gathered data through focus group discussions with the participating school staff, surveys with the participating parents, and observations of the four sessions of the fall 2023 Family Reading Night program. Overwhelmingly, both the school staff and parent groups found the literacy work to be very beneficial in teaching reading strategies the parents could use at home with their children, building positive relationships built around the literacy work they did together, and providing free resources to families. In contrast, the school staff members identified more challenges than the participating parents did, but when analyzing the school staff responses, I realized that the staff members were discussing challenges for all parents, not just the parents who were able to participate. The main challenges the staff identified included the sustainability of the program, scheduling conflicts, lack of transportation, and the ability to get the Family Reading Night program information to all families. The main challenge identified by parents involved scheduling conflicts with the timing of the Family Reading Night sessions. Twenty-nine percent (4 of 14) of the parents either had to leave work early to get to the program or leave the program a little early to get children to evening ball practices, but these challenges did not prevent them from participating. In fact, fifty percent (7 of 14) of the parents would like to see the program extended if possible. The responses from both the school staff members and the parents reveal the value of an after-school literacy program that provides strategies to help parents strengthen their children’s reading skills.