A snake painting curls its way cheerfully around the quadrangle at Glenroy Public School.
Its body, segmented by bright blocks of colour, is decorated with letters of the alphabet and sound combinations.
Placed beside the hopscotch and handrails, it's a physical - and highly visual - reminder of the importance this tight-knit school of 180 students places on literacy.
The classrooms may be empty of students for the holiday break but the little school was still humming with activity this week as teachers from the region gathered for some vital learning of their own.
Kate Finnie, the national advisor for the Institute for Multisensory Language Education (IMSLE), was in Albury to deliver a five-day course to 14 teachers and support staff from nine schools.
It's her third visit to the Border since she delivered the first Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) associate course in regional Victoria to 30 teachers and parents at Wodonga in 2017.
The courses are designed to explain the science of reading and spelling and demonstrate to teachers, therapists and other professionals the proven benefits of using a systematic phonics approach to improving literacy.
A former teacher herself, Ms Finnie is a staunch advocate for using the MSL approach to tackling reading difficulties and its reputation is growing as parents become more knowledgeable.
Support for this evidence-based method has been gaining momentum locally in recent years, largely driven by the work of the pro-active Albury-Wodonga Dyslexia Support Group.
Ms Finnie says she relishes her visits to the Border and is buoyed by the enthusiasm of course participants.
"There are currently too many kids in the system needing intervention because they are not getting the right teaching," she says.
"We need our best teaching to be in the classroom to reduce the number of students requiring that higher level of intervention.
"In the end it will save schools money, which can be re-directed to other resources."
While MSL is particularly effective for students with "learning differences", this method of teaching supports all children to understand the structure of our language, according to Ms Finnie.
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month and statistics show one in five students have learning-based difficulties including dyslexia.
Schools like Glenroy Public have assembled an arsenal of literacy firepower both in the classroom and physical surrounds.
Fostering a love of learning is literally all around, agrees assistant principal Carly Burns as she proudly points out the snake artwork on the concrete.
The depth of experience is evident in long-standing educators including Student Learning Support Officer Fiona Collier, a fully accredited MSL teacher and member of Dyslexia Association Australia.
Ms Burns adds it is also exciting to see new graduates like K/1 teacher Sarah Doolan prepared to give up a week of their own family and holiday time to attend training.
"To have teachers so enthused about the research on teaching with phonics and helping children to read will be of incredible benefit to our kids here at Glenroy," she says.
"And with Sarah learning about the science of reading early in her career and using it in her K/1 class, well we are teaching this right where we need it."
Literacy boost for North East schools
Wodonga's Belvoir Special School and Tawonga Primary School are among 15 Victorian schools to benefit from a significant boost to their literacy programs.
Dyslexia Victoria Support (DVS) selected the schools to receive a 12-month online phonics literacy program from UK-based dyslexia experts Nessy Learning.
As part of Dyslexia Awareness Month, DVS has teamed with the global company to distribute more than $100,000 of educational programs to schools.
DVS founder Heidi Gregory said the donation provided schools with an incredible opportunity for teachers to work with systematic phonics instruction that would benefit all students in a classroom - "not just those with specific needs and who are struggling with reading and spelling".
"We believe there is a lot of scope for improvement in the way teachers can teach the basics of reading and writing ... this pilot program is a brilliant start," she said.
Belvoir's acting assistant principal Margaret Kinnell said the program would be "invaluable" for teachers and help the school deliver a structured and explicit approach to teaching literacy to a range of students with learning differences.
"We try not to label our students and we individualise everything we do," Ms Kinnell said.
"We don't do testing for dyslexia but there has been a shift in our school towards phonics and away from whole language."
Ms Kinnell said one of Belvoir's MSL-trained teachers, Amanda Gay, already worked explicitly with small groups and individual students to help them "break the code".
"Mandy also holds development sessions with staff to give them tools to take back to the classroom to help students break down words into components."
The Nessy subscription is valued at more than $6700.