Smallwood grant benefits literacy program
Susan Mc Neall
Laauren O Neill
When the Douglas County School District provided the Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study in Reading as a framework for teaching reading at the elementary school level for teachers, they knew they would need to support teachers as they learned how to use the framework in their classrooms.
They planned to do this in several ways but attending the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Summer Institute for the units at Columbia University was not financially feasible.
On behalf of the district, Hollie Harvey, a learning strategist requested a grant from the Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation to cover the cost for several employees to attend.
In May 2018, Harvey, was awarded $26,000 toward registrations fees, and travel expenses for those who had applied to the program and been accepted.
A combination of 10 principals and teacher leaders were able to attend the Summer Institute at Columbia University in New York last summer.
The Summer Institute Project gave elementary school administrators, learning strategists, and teacher leaders a rare opportunity to attend classes at the week-long institute.
“These professionals were inspired to provide teachers with mentoring and coaching professional development experiences from on-site literacy leaders that have gained the necessary understanding of Lucy Calkins Units of Study directly from the program’s creators,” Harvey said. “As educators, we acknowledge the importance of literacy for student success and we strive to implement, consistent, high quality reading instruction. Unfortunately, at times new teaching initiatives for instruction often don’t get fully implemented if teachers are not given the opportunity to receive the appropriate guidance and support.”
Harvey said that the institute helped increase reading success.
“Attending the (institute) gave site administrators and teacher leaders the tools they need to truly become the influential mentors that are needed for full implementation of the Lucy Calkins Reading Workshop framework,” Harvey said. “The knowledge and confidence gained from the direct learning gained by these employees enabled them to guide and mentor teachers, as well as conduct professional book clubs that teachers can attend on-site after school.”
Suzy Stockdale and the Smallwood Foundation were formally recognized and thanked at the Oct. 9, 2018, Board Meeting by Rommy Cronin-Mack and Superintendent Teri White.
“I would like to personally thank Stockdale, and the Smallwood Foundation for supporting this project and investing in the continuation of education of the teachers of the Douglas County School District. Without this experience we wouldn’t be able to provide the support necessary to the teachers as we continue the hard work of the implementation of the Units of Study in Reading.” Harvey said.