County school system receives grant to support literacy initiative

Published 3:12 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Carter County’s school system received a grant to purchase materials to help improve reading levels for elementary school students.
UTrust awarded a $26,100 mini-grant to the school system to purchase take home readers and intervention kits for first and second graders. Mike Miller, the Elementary Supervisor for Carter County Schools, applied for the mini-grant to expand classroom libraries in the county’s nine elementary schools so students will be able to take home books on their reading level.
“We got it last year in the same amount,” Miller said of the UTrust mini-grant.
Last year, Miller said, the grant was used to purchase items for use in the classroom. This year, the grant is being used to buy reading assessment kits and books the children can borrow and take home.
Having an accurate assessment of a student’s reading level as well as on-level reading materials for that student are vital to improving literacy, Miller said.
“These materials coincide with our total program and align with the work of improving reading instruction,” Miller said. “The intervention kits will aid in determining students’ reading levels, which will help students become confident readers.”
“They will also assist teachers in providing the most appropriate intervention and activities to meet individual student needs,” he added.
The readers are geared to different reading levels to assure that children are reading a book at the correct difficulty for their level so they can learn and improve their reading skills.
Also, these new materials will be uniform across the elementary schools, so students are receiving consistent evaluations.
“Everyone of those children is different,” Miller said. “They read at a different pace and a different reading level.”
Currently, the Carter County School System operates the leveled readers in kindergarten, first and second grades. “We’re going to implement it in third grade next year,” Miller said.
The school system is currently working on an initiative to improve student literacy rates, and Director of Schools Dr. Kevin Ward said the grant funding will assist the system in achieving those goals.
“We are grateful to UTrust for providing these funds that will help us in accomplishing our three-year literacy goals of 75 percent of all students leaving third grade,” Ward said. “We are always pleased when we are able to find funds that do not come from taxpayers for projects like this.”
UTrust is an organization that assists school systems in Tennessee in managing unemployment issues and in recognizing, supporting, and appreciating school employees. The mini-grant program is offered by UTrust as an opportunity for member school systems to apply for funds for small projects that might otherwise not be funded.
“We are pleased that UTrust is able to fund small projects that will make a big difference,” said Dr. Dan Tollett, UTrust administrator. “We believe these books and intervention kits will make a big difference to primary grade students and their teachers in Carter County. We appreciate Mr. Miller submitting this request, and we are glad to be a part of such a worthy project.”

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