UCS administrator chosen as president of the Michigan Reading Association

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 31, 2021

 Jill Erfourth, a Utica Community Schools literacy coach, recently was elected president of the Michigan Reading Association.

Jill Erfourth, a Utica Community Schools literacy coach, recently was elected president of the Michigan Reading Association.

Photo provided by Tim McAvoy

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP / UTICA — Jill Erfourth, who was once a student at Flickinger Elementary School, recently was elected president of the Michigan Reading Association, which is a statewide professional organization of educators.

Erfourth was elected MRA vice president in 2019, a four-year commitment, and has moved this year into the top role as president.

Erfourth has been with UCS for more than 20 years. She was an elementary school administrative intern, an elementary school teacher and most recently a district literacy coach in UCS for the past two years.

She is the co-author of Interacting with Informational Text for Close and Critical Reading, which the district described as “a framework for educators which includes lessons to engage students and guide them to read text critically to build comprehension.”

Erfourth also serves as the district’s literacy ambassador for Macomb County.

She said that serving as the president of the Michigan Reading Association is one of the greatest honors in her career to date.

“MRA is a network of passionate educators who are strong advocates of literacy. I have been a member of the organization most of my career and a speaker at our annual conferences. During that time, I have met so many inspiring educators who are now lifelong friends and colleagues. Their work has inspired me to get more involved with MRA in various leadership roles, starting with a regional representative and now as President,” Erfourth said in an email interview.

She said that when she was growing up, her elementary school teachers sparked her passion and love for reading.

“I want to continue to share that passion with educators across the state while advocating for equity through literacy. I believe in our mission of empowering educators and students through literacy. I look forward to working with our talented, dedicated executive committee and board of directors to learn alongside them and advance our mission,” she said.

“The ability to read, write and communicate connects people to one another. Books can be mirrors, windows and doors building empathy and community. There is power in story. Stories inspire agency and activism, help us celebrate, respect and value what makes us each unique while highlighting commonalities we share as humans,” Erfourth stated in a press release announcing her as the new president of the Michigan Reading Association.

As president, her focus will be on expanding community partnerships and giving educators more opportunities for professional growth through webinars and networking sessions, the press release states.

“As president, I plan to carry out our mission of empowering Michigan students and educators through literacy while expanding our organizational strategic plan to support equity in literacy and book access for all students,” she stated in the press release. “I want to include more voices from educators’ classrooms across the state so they can share their knowledge, expertise and literacy practices,” she said.

She said that expanding partnerships can support more grant opportunities for educators to bring in diverse books and literacy-related projects.

“In addition to our annual spring conference, my goal is to offer more professional learning and development opportunities throughout the year that support equitable literacy learning for all students. MRA looks to expand our membership to involve more educators and raise their voices from the classrooms to share their knowledge and passion through our work,” she said.

For Erfourth, her professional accomplishments and advocacy for reading are the direct result of teachers who inspired her in Utica Community Schools classrooms.

“I remember the Research Center teacher, Dr. Lohr, who would read books and share the love of reading. I enjoyed science with my 5th and 6th grade teacher Mr. Dave Bruha, who ignited my curiosity and love for learning. I have since become a lifelong learner, and reading is a gateway to discovering the world,” she stated in the press release.

As president, her new duties will include acting as the executive officer of the association, as well as presiding at meetings of the membership and meetings of all other committees. As president, it is her duty to oversee the day-to-day operations of the office. The president advances the mission of the association.

Robert Monroe, UCS superintendent, said Erfourth has more than 20 years of demonstrated leadership in creating a strong foundation for Utica Community Schools students in literacy.

“As president of the Michigan Reading Association, she will be a powerful voice for providing teachers the resources they need to support the success of all students. We are proud to have such a strong representative of UCS to support educators throughout the state and nation,” he said via email.

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