Groveport Madison Local Schools officials have embraced the state’s new literacy consultant program that they believe will better prepare students to handle the demands of being part of the ever evolving 21st century skilled labor work force.
Superintendent Scott McKenzie and Director of School Improvement Susan Briggs reported to the Groveport Madison Board of Education in November that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) informed the district it could hire nine literacy consultants (one for each of the district’s 10 buildings, excluding Glendening Elementary because it already has a math consultant and therefore was ineligible).
The ODE is funding the $900,000 cost to pay for the consultants’ salaries, benefits, and technology needs. The consultants will be in place in the district for two years. They will provide training and support for teachers, coordinate data collection for literacy programs, help align literacy efforts in the district, and assist individual students.
"We are very fortunate to have them and to be a part of this program," said Briggs.
Briggs said all nine of the literacy consultants are former teachers. The consultants and their assignments are: Shelley Holley, high school; Rhiannon Priestas, junior high; Debra Wilson, middle school north; Kim Shiplett, middle school south; Kathy Weiser, Groveport Elementary; Jackie Moore, Dunloe Elementary; Carole McGonigal, Asbury Elementary; Kathy Hinton, Madison Elementary; and Susan Baird, Sedalia Elementary.
About the literacy consultant program
Rachel Eader, regional literacy consultant, said this is the first year for the statewide literacy program, which is designed to teach teachers how to instruct students to break down and better comprehend reading passages.
"The literacy consultant works primarily as a coach with the teachers," said Eader. "Though there’s some direct interaction between the literacy consultant and the student, it’s limited. The program’s purpose is to provide professional development to teachers so they can produce successful results for the students."
Eader said the training is a two fold process that provides: online training featuring five components of reading including sound identification, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary; and face to face training.
"Literacy consultants can offer a bevy of strategies to make reading more beneficial to students," said Eader.
She added the program can be effective with students at all grade levels.
"We want all students to have access to quality literacy instruction," said Eader.
Literature and literacy are different
Eader said it’s important to recognize the distinction between the terms literature and literacy.
"There’s a huge difference," said Eader. "Teachers are recognizing that literacy is not just about reading."
She explained that literature involves a specific study of the written word while the concept of literacy entails reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, comprehension, and thinking.
"In the 21st century working world, literacy skills are more demanding for students than in the past," said Eader. "Our program reflects the importance of literacy in the state. Ohio is the first state to have a literacy specialist endorsement available for teachers."
The program at Groveport Madison
Eader said Groveport Madison teachers and officials have embraced the program.
"It’s an important change at Groveport Madison as the concept of literacy is being discussed daily," said Eader. "There’s been a mindset shift in learning and understanding of the teaching process."
"I’m having a wonderful experience at Groveport Madison," continued Eader. "The district has a very qualified staff from the administration down to the building level. The staff is very receptive to the project and the district is embracing change in a positive way."
Madison Elementary gets grant
Having the literacy consultants in the district is also paying off in other ways.
Kathy Hinton, literacy consultant at Madison Elementary, wrote a grant for the Wal-Mart Foundation and on Nov. 27 Tracy Haynes-Castro delivered a check from Sam’s Club in Reynoldsburg for $2,750 to the school.
The money will be used for instructional resources for the students at Madison Elementary. Helping with the project was the library/media specialist Linda Tucker.