In all, 203 public schools received Read to be Ready Summer Grants for 2018. Those grants will provide $8,860,000 in funding for tuition-free, month-long literacy-focused summer camps for 7,700 students in need across the state.
The district’s summer school program, which will be housed at Fairmont Elementary School this year, will incorporate a new reading clinic funded by this grant. The purpose of the reading clinic is to identify rising 3rd-graders who are deemed to be most at-risk and to provide them with literacy instruction at a 1-5 teacher-to-student ratio.
The South Side Elementary School program will also have a 1-5 ratio, but its focus will be on rising first-graders who are English language learners. Each program will include field trips and guest speakers to go along with each week’s theme.
Johnson City School’s literacy coaches, Dr. LaDonna Boone and Tiffany Hogan, wrote the grant and will oversee the program at Fairmont. Boone said that the team is excited about the potential of the summer program for the district.
“The program will have two goals,” Boone said in a news release, “to accelerate the literacy growth of children who struggle the most and to provide teaches with professional development that will teach them how to make excellent instructional decisions that will help propel struggling students forward.”
Teachers participating in the program will also benefit as the district takes an apprenticeship model toward the reading clinic. That means that literacy coaches will be teaching along with teachers and helping them to better formulate a plan to help struggling students. Another added bonus from the program will be that any curricular resources that generate from the Read to be Ready program will shift to the district level next year so that materials and techniques will be recycled within the district.
South Side third grade teacher Nancy Miles, who was named Grand Division winner for East Tennessee Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Department of Education, will direct the program at South Side. Miles, who wrote the grant, said that the program will revolve around the theme of “We all have a story to tell” and it will include field trips and family engagement nights.
“It puts the students in an environment where they get four more weeks of hearing English, which is very important at that age,” Miles said.
Read to be Ready is a coordinated campaign launched by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, First Lady Crissy Haslam and Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen in February 2016 with the goal to increase third grade reading proficiency in Tennessee to 75 percent by 2025 through a variety of initiatives.
The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of reading, unite efforts to address low reading achievement, highlight best practices and build partnerships. In 2017, about 8,000 rising first, second and third grade students demonstrated statistically significant gains in critical reading skills and increased their motivation to read. Additionally, through the 2017 summer grant program, more than 180,000 high-quality books were sent home with students.