Eight schools are awarded Read to be Ready summer program grants
Posted on 12/07/2018
Education Commissioner Candace McQueen works with Jaiquez Kalaukoa at the Woodmore Elementary Read to be Ready Summer Program this past summer. Eight schools in Hamilton County Schools will have Read to Be Ready summer programs in 2019 as the Read to be Ready Summer Grants were announced yesterday by Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. Barger Academy of Fine Arts, Bess T. Shepherd Elementary, East Lake Elementary, East Ridge Elementary, Hardy Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Lakeside Academy, and Wolftever Creek Elementary School will have the month-long literacy-focused summer camps for children. The state provides $8,900,000 in funding across the state for tuition-free access to the camp for students in need.

“Reading and literacy is the very foundation of academic success for children and is a major focus for Hamilton County Schools in the Future 2023 Action Plan,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “These important summer opportunities help our youngest learners to love reading which will set them on a path to improved learning and success as they progress toward graduation.”

The number one item in the Focus 5 of the Future Ready 2023 Action Plan for Hamilton County Schools is the goal that at least half of all third-grade students will be on-track or will have mastered English language arts skills as measured by the TNReady English language arts assessment. The action plan notes that early literacy is critical to ensure students have the academic foundation to put them on a trajectory for success through high school and beyond.

Rather than experiencing what some call the summer slide, students in Read to be Ready camps have a chance to keep learning and advance their reading skills through a variety of literacy experiences over the critical summer months. Summer 2019 is the fourth year of the state grant program, and it has been expanded for next summer to provide more student access to the program by changing the student-to-teacher ratio from 1:5 to 1:6. The change allows more students to participate without sacrificing the quality and close-knit nature of camps.

“Teachers spend time in the summer helping students to build their reading stamina using sight words, familiar poetry and leveled texts,” said Stephanie Hinton, executive director of teaching and learning in Hamilton County Schools. “In Hamilton County Schools, the state-funded summer reading camps are producing improved student reading skills and overall motivation for children to read books.”

All Tennessee public schools were eligible to apply for the Read to be Ready Summer Grant program. Prospective applicants were asked to design summer camps that were at least four weeks in length and at least four hours per day—providing students with access to at least 80 hours of literacy-focused instruction and enrichment during the summer. The summer camps will use high-interest books, authentic literacy experiences, and engaging field trips to help increase students’ motivation.

Read to be Ready is a coordinated campaign launched by Governor Bill Haslam, First Lady Crissy Haslam, and Commissioner 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.

Photo: Education Commissioner Candace McQueen works with Jaiquez Kalaukoa at the Woodmore Elementary Read to be Ready Summer Program this past summer.