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Rugby Public School District receives Striving Readers Grant

By Staff | Jul 27, 2018

The research is clear on the importance of literacy. It is particularly important for students to develop early literacy skills to be successful in school. If a student is not at grade level for literacy by grade three, we know that they are at risk of struggling throughout their school experience. If they are below grade level in literacy, they will more than likely struggle in all other academic areas. It is imperative that we identify and intervene early to help students have a successful school experience.

Over the past six months a group of teachers, community stakeholders, our two principals, and I have been working on the North Dakota Striving Readers Grant application. It is a federal grant aimed at improving literacy from birth to grade 12. Our district was selected to move past the first round and were invited to complete the official grant application in March. We held several meetings and worked with community stakeholders to design a plan based on stakeholder feedback. The grant application was submitted on June 29th and we were notified on July 23rd that we were approved for $660,000.

We brought together over 20 people from various entities (Infant Development, Right Tracks, Head Start, Rugby Public School District, Public Library, Daycare providers, Social Services, Pierce County Health, and Lone Tree Special Education) in Pierce County to review our literacy programming. Our focus was to conduct a literacy audit from birth to grade 12. This process has been an eye opening experience for our school district. Through this process we discovered various inconsistencies throughout our literacy program. We also discovered how powerful our program could be if all of these different entities worked in unison.

We identified the following areas for improvement and grant dollars will help support our growth across the birth to grade 12 continuum.

* Purchase and provide high quality curriculum to support best practices in literacy instruction.

* Improve coordination between agencies on literacy (Rugby Early Learning Center, Social services, Right Tracks, Infant Development, Lonetree Special Education, Heart of America Public Library, Faith-based organizations, Prairie Village Museum, Village Arts, etc).

* Improve child care support services: For example: provide traveling literacy centers, trained individuals who provide literacy rich experiences to children in day care settings, sensory experiences, social and emotional learning, and quality professional development on early literacy.

* Organize community support services: provide high quality books and promote Imagination Library, traveling literacy centers, trained individuals who provide literacy rich experiences to children at the public library, social and emotional learning, and sensory experiences.

* Provide quality professional development to ALL child care providers, support staff, community literacy leaders, and faculty on literacy.

* Creation of literacy events and activities that are convenient for parents that occur throughout the year.

* Emphasize communication practices, create opportunities for parental involvement, provide clear guidance/education for parents in regard to developmental milestones, address parental apathy, and provide parental support in navigating the system.

Over the next three years we will be hiring two new positions to coordinate literacy activities and develop a multi-tiered support system for the Rugby Early Learning Center, Ely Elementary, and Rugby High School. We will also be hiring an on-site literacy consultant to provide coaching and share best practices with our support staff and teachers. We are excited for this opportunity and I am personally thankful for all of the people who helped contribute to this grant application.

– Submitted by Dr. Michael McNeff, Rugby Public Schools superintendent

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