Long-time literacy practitioner values Decoda’s collaboration and support

A 25-year literacy practitioner says that Decoda Literacy Solutions is everything she hoped it would become when two literacy organizations merged a decade ago.

Balanced for success

“It feels great to work under the umbrella of Decoda,” said Rebecca Beuschel, Executive Director of Literacy Quesnel. “It’s well-balanced. It’s somewhere between the grassroots Literacy BC – and the more polished corporate structure of Literacy Now.”

Co-founder of the Literacy Quesnel Society, Rebecca has worked as a regional literacy coordinator with Literacy BC and as a literacy outreach coordinator with Decoda. She was also President of the Literacy BC Board of Directors during the transition period and had the role of introducing the new literacy organization concept to many BC literacy practitioners who had a strong loyalty to Literacy BC.

“It was a bridging of two worlds. In the end, they did a good job of balancing what the communities needed, what the grassroots people needed and then also being well-positioned to lobby government and private institutions.”

The ‘grassroots’ feel was in the freedom for communities to support literacy in ways that best suit their needs and goals.

“Decoda has done an amazing job of trusting communities to know best what they need. They’ve really honoured that. And then Decoda does their best to support the coordinators and the communities in their literacy work.”

Supportive leadership

For the past decade, Decoda has consistently funded 100-plus literacy outreach coordinators across BC and provided leadership, training and resources for literacy practitioners at all levels.

Its mission is to increase the literacy and learning skills of children and families, youth, adults and seniors to improve their quality of life at home, at work and in the community.

Literacy Quesnel supports literacy throughout a lifetime, providing ongoing activities like Books for Babies, Fostering Literacy tutoring for elementary students and Community Adult Literacy Programs (CALP) for adults. They have also participated in Decoda’s Displaced Workers’ Literacy and Essential Skills research project and are launching the Driver Education and Preparation Project (DEPP) this year as a beta-test site.

Rebecca appreciates all that Decoda provides to support her work.

“Staff at Decoda are so supportive! Many of them have been working in literacy for years and have been coordinators themselves. And I like that they are not ‘boxed in’ in their thinking. The philosophy of Decoda is flexible and open – they don’t keep doing something just because they’ve done it. They look at what is effective or not, and they are really responsive to our needs. Decoda responded quickly and well to the online shift since the pandemic.”

Decoda program manager Maureen Kehler has been holding monthly Zoom video calls for literacy outreach coordinators. There’s no pressure to attend, but they can be a good source of information and connection.

“We also tried breakout rooms to have smaller discussion groups,” said Rebecca, “and when we found we wanted to discuss StoryWalks® in more depth, Maureen set up a separate Zoom conference on another day to focus on that.”

Resources and professional development

Rebecca has always used the Decoda Literacy Library for resources. It migrated to Decoda from Literacy BC along with the librarian Tina Chau, who retired earlier this year.

“Tina was a gem, and I know the new librarian Lea will be just as helpful.”

Rebecca also appreciates the professional development and connections with literacy practitioners that happens at the bi-annual Decoda Literacy conference – postponed this year due to the pandemic.

“The conferences are fantastic! I’ve missed not having one.”

Collaboration is key

Collaboration is one of Decoda’s key values, along with courage, accountability and optimism. ‘Working together for literacy’ is more than Decoda’s tagline, it’s a philosophy for supporting literacy practitioners and communities as we all move toward a vision of a British Columbia where everyone has the literacy skills they need.

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