Aug. 1—ANDERSON — Karen Griner expects to move frequently this fall during her work days at Eastside Elementary School.
Griner, who has spent the past 24 years teaching in the Anderson Community Schools system, made what she called “a difficult decision” to leave the classroom and become one of six instructional coaches in literacy employed by the district.
This year at Eastside Elementary, she will walk in and out of classrooms serving kindergarten, first and second graders. Griner will work with teachers to implement the Reading Science Focus Areas, a body of research that has been organized into five main areas or pillars: phonemic awareness, phonetics, fluency, vocabulary, and understanding.
“It’s decades of research that has (been) brought together to help us as educators know how students learn to read and how they learn best,” Griner said. “It’s more about strategies that will be put in place with the programs that we already have or that we will adopt.”
Griner’s position, along with that of five other literacy coaches — one in each elementary school in the district — is funded by a two-year grant from the Indiana Department of Education. The grant, IDOE officials say, is part of a partnership between the state and local schools to provide coaching to teachers in research-based instruction in reading or science, technology, engineering and math. .
“We know that the ability to read and engage with STEM content is a major predictor of student success in life after high school,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. .
“Knowing that our educators are on the front lines of this important work, we need to lean in and provide…additional support and training so they can provide the best research-based teaching to our students.”
Griner said ACS’ decision to join the program — which begins in 68 other districts across the state this year — is timely because teachers will face a host of barriers related to learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have absolutely seen the delays in our classrooms, especially with our early learners,” Griner said. “Having a literacy coach in each elementary building working with all of our Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 students…is going to be a really critical part of helping our struggling students.”
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