The Savannah-Chatham Public School System is excited to announce its recent awarding of a $781,251 Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). The “All Aboard the Reading Express" project will leverage community and school partnerships to enhance literacy opportunities and access to free, grade- and language-appropriate books for students in the Savannah-Chatham community from birth through twelfth grade. SCCPSS is a melting pot of students from the United States and countries worldwide, bringing a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, knowledge, and perspectives. This project provides actionable steps to address the literacy challenges our schools and communities face by developing literacy knowledge and skills of students, parents, and educators, in our rural, urban, English-Language Learner (ELL), and low-income communities.
“When a student develops a love of reading, it helps foster a love of learning – an amazing gift we can give our children," said Dr. Ann Levett, Superintendent of Savannah-Chatham County Schools.
While most SCCPSS schools serve a small number of English-Language Learners (ELL) students, those who need intense support and services attend an ELL Cluster School. “All Aboard the Reading Express" will focus on the twelve ELL Cluster Schools: Garden City Elementary, Godley Station K8, Gould Elementary, Groves High School, Hesse K8, May Howard Elementary, New Hampstead K8, Pooler Elementary, Port Wentworth Elementary, Rice Creek School, Windsor Forest Elementary, and West Chatham Middle School. “All Aboard the Reading Express" will scaffold support to these schools and their surrounding communities by providing grade- and language-appropriate books for the home, training materials in multiple languages for the parents during family engagement events and pediatric well-child visits, and fund the acquisition of language-appropriate books to expand the selection available to ELL students in their school libraries. Teacher Specialists trained in literacy development for ELL students will develop early literacy materials, design and deliver training opportunities to parents, and provide critical reading training to Library Media Technology Specialists to support the language acquisition of all students with an emphasis on English-Language Learners.
Access to high-quality, culturally diverse, content-appropriate books will be a significant component of this project. We will leverage the pre-existing WOW bus infrastructure to promote literacy and distribute books across the community to build students' at-home libraries. There will be a variety of reading resources that include English-language books, bilingual books, and multilingual books available to students. WOW buses with books for students will be routed to identified schools. Students will be able to check out print and eBooks through district-provided resources such as OverDrive's SORA and Follett Destiny eBooks. They will also receive assistance with identifying their reading levels, and parents/families will be given tips and tools to promote reading at home and in interactions with texts. With the direction and curriculum developed by the Teacher Specialist, the Library Media Technology Specialist (LMTS) and other school personnel will deliver training to parents on the WOW bus. Professional development sessions will include strategies and guidance to parents to promote academic achievement through lifelong literacy. The professional development sessions will target reading fluency, reading comprehension, writing skills, and strategies for all grade levels pertinent to ongoing literacy development. Parents will be provided with suggested home activities to help families develop a habit of building a solid foundation of reading and language skills.
SCCPSS has partnered with Curtis V Cooper Primary Health Care Centers to bring mobile healthcare services to SCCPSS families. The Mobile Healthcare Units currently serve four of our target grant schools: Port Wentworth Elementary, Windsor Forest Elementary, West Chatham Middle, and Groves High School. Through the Curtis V Cooper brick-and-mortar sites and the Mobile Healthcare Units, grade- and language-appropriate books and developmentally appropriate reading strategies will be provided to parents and children during their well-child visits. The reading strategy material will be available in multiple languages and across multiple developmental stages to assist families in creating a reading-friendly atmosphere before children begin school and continue throughout their school career.
“All Aboard the Reading Express" will focus on adding high-interest, high-quality, grade- and language-appropriate books for students that will increase each of the twelve schools' book to student ratio.