Atlanta Speech School
Get Georgia Reading Campaign
“The best predictor of a baby’s later academic success is the number of words spoken to the baby and the amount of time spent in active engagement and communication. Right now, only 34% of Georgia’s third graders are proficient readers but, by ensuring parents deliver abundant language nutrition to their infants, we can ensure all our children learn to read by the end of third grade, preparing them to read to learn throughout school and life.”
Role in shaping TWMB on the Leadership Team:
In 2013, Arianne Weldon was engaged with more than 100 public and private partners from across Georgia in an 8-month process that resulted in the development of a common agenda for ensuring that all children in Georgia, starting at birth, are on a path to reading proficiency by the end of third grade. As Weldon and those partners examined research and best practices and literacy development, it quickly became apparent that early exposure to language-rich adult-child interactions provided a critical foundation on which language and literacy could be built. Weldon coined the term “language nutrition” and stressed its importance in supporting early brain development and ensuring that children learn to read by the end of third grade so that they can read to learn throughout life.
Organization’s Role in Shaping Talk With Me Baby
Get Georgia Reading is a statewide platform for collective, population-based action by public and private entities, driven by a four-part common agenda designed to ensure that all children, starting from birth, are on a path to third grade reading proficiency. With research showing the power of abundant language-rich adult-child interactions to support early brain development, Language Nutrition is one of the four pillars of the Campaign’s common agenda. Early exposure to language has a strong effect on vocabulary development by age 3, which is a key predictor of reading comprehension by the end of third grade, which, in turn, is predictive of high school graduation. Get Georgia Reading reminds the Talk With Me Baby collaborative of the long-range implications of their work for children and enables the collaborative to reach and influence the more than 100 public and private partners engaged in the Campaign.
Assistant Professor & Director of Infant Research
Dr. Ashley Darcy Mahoney is an assistant professor at the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Her area of interest is in neonatology, developmental pediatrics and brain injury. She has dedicated her career to infant health, specifically high-risk infants' developmental outcomes. Her research seeks to improve early-childhood outcomes for these infants, most recently through language interventions with the Talk With Me Baby initiative.
Dr. Darcy Mahoney played an instrumental role in spearheading Talk With Me Baby. As one of the six leaders who crafted the initial program, she worked diligently to target the nursing workforce to develop the campaign. She has since worked to develop and implement a curriculum within Emory’s School of Nursing to train nurses about the importance of social interaction with babies in and outside of the womb. Dr. Darcy Mahoney has given a multitude of national presentations about the Talk With Me Baby program, including at a day-long White House Summit on Early Childhood Education, and the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Research Congress. Her work with the Talk With Me Baby team has been lauded by media outlets such as the White House blog, The Atlantic, the New Scientist, and Georgia Health News.
Dr. Darcy Mahoney is thrilled to be a part of such a novel project. “The concept is very simple but also very critical,” she says. “"Our message is simple: 'talk with your baby'. It matters because 85 percent of all neurons are developed by age three. By simply including your baby in every-day conversations and talking to them about everything, you can drastically improve their chances of academic success. The more words that they hear as a baby, the smarter they become, and the better prepared they will be for reading by the end of third grade."
State Schools Director
Georgia Department of Education
"It’s all about LANGUAGE! It’s the cornerstone of building a solid education for children and students and putting them on a trajectory to being college and/or career ready." — Dr. Kenney Moore
Individual role in shaping TWMB on the Leadership Team
I am privileged to serve on the Talk With Me Baby’s (TWMB) Leadership Team. With my experience in working with students with sensory impairments, specifically visual and hearing impairments, I use my knowledge of those unique populations of children and students to add to the meaningfulness and practical applications of TWMB. Language acquisition has long been an issue in the fields of Deaf and Blind education. TWMB’s focus on language nutrition will without a doubt help students with sensory impairments expand and build upon their language which will ultimately lead to academic and life success.
Organization’s role in shaping TWMB
The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) understands that language nutrition and the work being done by TWMB is groundbreaking. With literacy being a primary strategic goal of the GaDOE, the agency offers any support it can to advance the work of TWMB. The GaDOE understands that the current target population of TWMB will be school age children within a few years. The GaDOE’s support of TWMB will ensure that children are reading proficiently by 3rd grade.
“Collective impact is more than cooperation, coordination and collaboration amongst partners; it involves a strong, respectful, trusting and transparent relationship amongst partners (individuals and institutions) that results in each doing exactly what they do best-leveraging relationships, maximizing funding, encouraging influence-with an intention to achieve more together than we can in solo and with an impact that far exceeds what our goals and aspirations can imagine.”
Leadership Role with Talk With Me Baby
Leading several outreach efforts to build a community viable healthcare system for infants and toddlers, Dr. Stapel-Wax unequivocally believes in the message of “Talk With Me Baby”. As the Principal Investigator for the United Way Dare to Forget the Box Award, the foundational grant that provided the seed funding for the effort, Dr. Stapel-Wax has a central role in shaping Talk With Me Baby (TWMB) efforts. She serves as one of six core leaders, each representing a leading entity in Georgia. She serves on several workgroups and supervises the staff who takes operational leadership roles on several other workgroups. Providing vision and clear objectives, Dr. Stapel-Wax helps to put the goals of TWMB into action. In addition to managing key workgroups of TWMB, she garners collaboration and support for TWMB by going into the community and illustrating the importance of the TWMB program. Dr. Stapel-Wax uses her clinical and interpersonal strengths in building collaborative relationships among professional colleagues in the community and other institutions. Moreover, amongst her other efforts in launching TWMB, Dr. Stapel-Wax assists in the development of palpable materials to make the language nutrition movement community viable, impactful and sustainable. Given her clinical and research expertise in the areas of development and assessment of young children, neurodevelopmental disorders, and teaching, training and supervision, Dr. Stapel-Wax plays an integral role in all facets of the TWMB initiative.
Role of Marcus Autism Center in shaping Talk With Me Baby
The Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta serves as the backbone for Talk With Me Baby serving as the hub for logistics and maximizing the impact of one of the largest children’s hospital systems in the nation. Operations includes, housing all operations staff, organizing nurse trainings, facilitating data collection, developing effective research protocols, evaluating methodologies, and guiding collaborative efforts and collective impact. In addition to fulfilling operational needs Marcus has another significant role; The Marcus Autism Center/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) serves as the chief fiduciary agent of TWMB. As the host institution, Marcus allocates resources toward personnel, creation and dissemination of the TWMB brand, marketing materials, tools and supplementary materials. CHOA also offers a large network of pediatric hospitals and clinics that will assist with the implementation of the TWMB intervention. Marcus works to cultivate interest and fidelity for TWMB amongst healthcare professionals to ensure that TWMB inspires a transformative impact on the lives of infants and toddlers. Emory University Department of Pediatrics serves a pivotal role in both supporting the uptake of TWMB in medical settings but also as a foundation for research into the TWMB method, coaching and public action and dissemination.
1920 Briarcliff Road
Atlanta, GA 30329