With heavy hearts and deep gratitude, Rashana and I ask you and the entire Horizons at Foote community to join us in celebrating the remarkable life of Laura Altshul. Laura’s spirit is etched into our very foundation, and we mourn her passing together with all who loved and admired her.
Laura was a lifelong educator and advocate for educational equity. For 20 years, she brought excitement and creativity to the lives of countless kindergartners at the Foote School, helping them discover a love of reading and a thirst to learn. Laura walked the walk; she felt strongly that that love should be shared with students throughout New Haven, no matter their circumstances. In 1996, together with her colleague, Saylor Heidmann, she co-founded FooteBridge, the literacy program that would become Horizons at Foote in 2014. As our founding Board Chair, Laura led Horizons with grace, strength, and an aspiration to give back to her community.
During her decade-long tenure, she taught us all the meaning of courage, kindness, and empathy. Ever-willing and eager, you could find Laura at Horizons activities and events: teaching our students how to make pretzels from scratch, speaking on the history of our program at fundraisers, volunteering to help our students decipher the mystery of magnets on STEAM Day, and much more.
Laura’s legacy will guide us forward. We can honor her by living our lives as she did every day: true to her values, respectful of each child’s potential, generous with her time and talents, strong in the face of adversity, and embracing of all.
With deepest sympathy,
Francie Irvine Board Chair Horizons at the Foote School
Following her wishes, Laura’s family kindly requests that instead of flowers, donations be made to Horizons at the Foote School.
Horizons at Foote Receives Surprise $10,000 NewAlliance Foundation High Impact Literacy Award
Horizons at Foote was presented on Thursday, May 4 with a surprise grant award of $10,000 from NewAlliance Foundation. The “Hi-5” High Impact Literacy Award is granted annually to an organization in the NewAlliance Foundation service area that embodies five attributes the Foundation wishes to honor in the field of literacy: vision, responsiveness, innovation, spirit and results.
NewAlliance Foundation is an independent charitable foundation headquartered in the culturally and ethnically rich community of New Haven. Their mission is to advance literacy, build communities, and dismantle systems that perpetuate poverty and racism.
“At Horizons we work hard to create a love of learning by returning students to a place we're all familiar with: being engaged in storytelling and immersed in new worlds." explains Rashana Graham, Horizons at Foote Executive Director. "Thank you, NewAlliance, for seeing our vision and helping it come to fruition with the Hi-5 Award.”
Horizons’ supports literacy for K-8 students in various ways, including:
As an evidence-based program, Horizons at Foote uses nationally recognized STAR data to assess students’ reading levels at the beginning and end of each summer. Students consistently demonstrate 2-4 months gains in literacy during their six weeks at Horizons.
A full-time Reading Specialist develops individualized support strategies for students based on both test data and each students’ unique personality and learning style.
Horizons at Foote provides educators with the freedom of teaching without a set curriculum. Allowing teachers and staff to curate their own current, multicultural instructional materials around the interests and literacy levels of Horizons students is essential to classroom success.
Each week, students select 3-5 books from the “Horizons at Foote Book Fair” to build their home libraries, complete with cute & commemorative book plates for their names - a highlight of the summer for many!
Outside the summer, Horizons partnered with the New Haven chapter of The Links to host a virtual book club, where students met weekly to recap & discuss themes. Fall 2023 will also bring the return of Saturday Academies, where students can get additional tutoring in reading & writing.
“For almost ten years, Horizons scholars have returned to school excited to learn, with the viewpoint of what’s possible and finding a path to success.” Director of Programs at NewAlliance Foundation LaKisha Jordan states. “They'll graduate high school with life skills that prepare them to contribute to their communities and navigate the world. We are proud to recognize their commitment to literacy and the impact they are having on the lives of New Haven public school students.”