ECMS hires new leader

Published 8:11 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

By by Lee Weyhrich
Rachel Patterson Elementary is about to hire a new coach; a reading coach.
Principal Beth Drew has helped negotiate a $266,399 grant to help with the further implementation of the Alabama First Reading Initiative (ARFI) program.
The money will go towards new software, teacher training and a reading coach to help students and faculty.
"These are federal grants that are intended to help specifically with reading skills," Drew said. "With the grant we will be able to hire a reading coach obviously to help students, but also to help teachers. With it, as well, we will purchase the latest in scientific research materials such as the Open Court 2005 edition computer software. We will also be purchasing Voyager Passport, which will be an intervention program for struggling readers. The teachers will be involved in extensive professional development to help them best implement reading strategies to help them meet the needs of all readers.
"Teachers will be involved in job imbedded professional development," Drew continued. "We will have support from regional reading coaches, the State Department of Education and the Open Court representatives and voyager people teaching them how to best use Open Court and Voyager Passport for development."
Drew hopes this new funding will help the students meet their goals.
"Our goal is 100 percent literacy," Drew said. "We want every child to be able to read and read well. It's very important they get the foundation while they're with us. Children have got to be able to read."
Drew said this particular grant was not an easy one to get.
"I first found out that we were going to have the opportunity to write the grant in February," she said. "We probably only had five or six weeks to get the grant in state department hands."
That was only the beginning.
"The grant, once it was written, was sent to two outside readers outside the state," Drew said. "They had to read it and decide not to throw it out. We had to prove to outside people that we were on the right track and had a plan for the future as well."
Mary Beth Powell, the school board's director of federal programs, was unlisted to help with the grant writing process.
"It's really a wonderful opportunity for the teachers and the students at Rachel Patterson," Powell said. "It's just been a wonderful experience."
Rachel Patterson School qualified for the grant based on their reading scores and the scores at A.C. Moore Elementary.
"It's a federally funded grant," Powell said. "Rachel Patterson is a feeder school to A.C. Moore and we received the grant based on the scores at A.C. Moore. That's $260,000 we wouldn't have had. We're committed to 100 percent literacy and this is going to be one of those tools that get us there."
Drew and the staff at Rachel Patterson are also very glad to get the grant.
"We are very excited," Drew said. "My teachers are going through the Al Reading Academy this year during the summer. We have made tremendous strides in recent years, but we feel this will be the last piece of the puzzle. Our staff is very excited. Our reading scores have exponentially increased over recent years and we're thrilled for the help and support we'll get through this."

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox