Ohio Department of Education has awarded Mt. Healthy City Schools over $1million with the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant for the district’s literacy program. For the past three years Mt. Healthy City Schools’ strategic plan, Education Destination, has focused on increasing literacy among the district’s students. This grant will further intensify that focus and allow the district to target more literacy resources to students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.
MTHCS is one of only two schools in Hamilton County to receive the grant, and one of only 46 school districts and consortiums statewide to receive it. The district will receive one of the highest amounts in this area to support and improve the language and literacy development of its students.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, the award comes directly from the U.S. Department of Education’s $35 million Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant. “Approximately 95 percent of the $35 million award is distributed directly to local schools or early childhood programs to improve literacy outcomes for children from birth through grade 12. The three-year grant focuses on serving the greatest numbers of students living in poverty, students with disabilities, English-learners, and students identified as having reading difficulties.”
MTHCS plans to use the money to support professional development for teachers giving them the tools needed to improve literacy for students in the elementary and middle school years. Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) is a highly intensive program that will be used for teachers’ professional development through the grant. LETRS has a proven success record in teaching the foundational skills of reading, structures of English language, understanding the cognitive processes of learning to read, and the teaching practices that are most effective in averting and remediating reading difficulties. In addition it will provide literacy coaches for each of the buildings to work directly with students and teachers in the areas of intervention and reading or language development. Jana Wolf, Teaching and Learning Coordinator, explains, “This grant is great news for the students and teachers of Mt. Healthy City Schools. We are excited to be awarded this money, and thrilled that the State of Ohio has trusted our plan to grow students in their language and literacy skills.”
The district’s most recent report card shows gains in reading development and literacy, but there is much more work to assure MTHCS students have the skills they need to continue into high school as well as future paths to college, vocational or military careers. Dr. Cosby, Mt. Healthy Superintendent, is extremely proud of her staff as she explains, “Our grant writing team led by Jana Wolfe, worked tirelessly to develop a plan that met the literacy needs of our students so that we could secure these funds. They followed our five year strategic plan which is moving us in the right direction for our students to succeed.”
Paolo DeMaria, Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction, has recommended this grant that also endorses the state’s goals in increasing literacy throughout Ohio. He stated, “The grant builds on Ohio’s commitment to ensuring all students have the reading skills needed to succeed in education and life.”