HCS Hosts First Annual Every Student Reads Conference at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Posted on 07/26/2023

Chattanooga, Tenn. - Hamilton County Schools (HCS) partnered with Chattanooga 2.0, the Maclellan Foundation, and HCS Foundation to host the first annual Every Student Reads Conference at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

HCS Kindergarten through 2nd grade educators gathered on Tuesday, July 25 and Wednesday, July 26 to learn and refine their skills in teaching foundational literacy skills. The conference aimed to equip HCS educators with the skills and tools they need to ensure the earliest learners in the district can thrive. 

“Early grades set the stage for a student's learning journey throughout the rest of their education,” said Candace Baggett, Content Lead Reading Specialist for HCS. “Literacy skills allow students to deepen their understanding of all subjects. This conference seeks to help our teachers prepare for their students as we enter the new year. I am excited to have this opportunity to help strengthen our teachers’ skills and get them excited for the year ahead.” 

The conference allowed educators to attend 6 sessions out of 14 options including topics such as Closing Gaps through Progress Monitoring, Literacy Learning with Families, Phonemic Awareness, Fluency K-2, and more. The conference was opened with a keynote address from HCS Chief of Opportunity and Access Dr. Neelie Parker addressed early alphabetic principles, and was closed by a presentation from Natalie Wexler, author of The Knowledge Gap. The sessions were tailored to provide educators knowledge both around encouraging literacy in our schools, but also provided tools for teachers to assist families with literacy learning at home. While HCS knows that literacy is a foundation for learning, the district also recognizes that improving literacy across our county will take a dedicated commitment from our families and community as well. 

Additionally, throughout the conference attendees were awarded prizes with a culmination of 40 teachers receiving $500 checks donated by the HCS Foundation. Eight teachers from each of the five learning communities were drawn randomly. 

“I am excited to have been selected to receive one of the donations. It has reenergized me as we start the year and welcome back students,” said Jennifer Ramirez, first grade team lead at East Ridge Elementary. “I plan to use the money to provide more resources and tools for my literacy small group and enhance my students literacy stations. I know my kids will see my excitement and that will help them be excited about learning in the coming year.” 

HCS is excited to continue efforts that foster literacy learning in our youngest students. As a continued part of Opportunity 2030 Every Student Learns, it is imperative we continue providing options for professional development and giving our teachers the resources they need. 

“This year I am moving from Bess T. Shepard to Ooltewah Elementary and I saw my classroom for the first time. It's a beautiful classroom, but I am starting from scratch in preparing a place for learning,” said Suzanne Wofford second grade teacher. “This money will allow me to curate a reading collection tailored to my students and their interests and needs. It will also allow me to purchase flexible seating to help students stay focused. I am thrilled to be a part of this conference and have the opportunity to provide additional resources for my students.” 

For more information on literacy learning resources for families please visit our HCS Literacy Website