December 21, 2017
By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools
Five Rutherford County elementary schools have been awarded grants for a 2018 summer reading program, the Tennessee Department of Education announced this week.
Christiana Elementary School, Rock Springs Elementary School, Rockvale Elementary School, Stewartsboro Elementary School and Thurman Francis Arts Academy have all been named grant recipients for Tennessee’s Read to be Ready program.
Amazingly, all Rutherford County schools who applied for the grant were named recipients.
Statewide, 203 public schools received the grant, Tennessee Education Commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen said in a news release.
“As we have seen the past two years, Read to be Ready summer programs help ensure that our rising first-, second- and third-graders who need it the most are getting additional literacy support throughout the summer months,” Commissioner McQueen said. “This year, we are increasing access to our camps by providing additional funding to programs so that they can offer transportation to and from the summer camp. As last year’s results showed, these camps play a crucial role in increasing students’ vocabulary, reading comprehension and motivation, so we are excited to remove the transportation barrier to allow our students with the highest need to attend.”
The program will provide a total of $8.7 million in funding for tuition-free, month-long literacy-focused summer camps for 7,700 students in need across the state. For summer 2018, the third year of the grant program, the department has increased funding per student to allow more sites the ability to offer transportation for students. This will allow programs to fully fund the key components of successful camps, like providing a variety of high-quality texts and a range of learning experiences, while also meeting a key need for students.
All Tennessee public schools were eligible to apply for the Read to be Ready Summer Grant program. Prospective applicants were asked to design summer camps that were at least four weeks in length and at least four hours per day—providing students with access to at least 80 hours of literacy-focused instruction and enrichment during the summer. The summer camps will use high-interest books, authentic literacy experiences, and engaging field trips to help increase students’ motivation.
Read to be Ready is a coordinated campaign launched by Gov. Bill Haslam, First Lady Crissy Haslam and Commissioner McQueen in February 2016 with the goal to increase third grade reading proficiency in Tennessee to 75 percent by 2025 through a variety of initiatives. The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of reading, unite efforts to address low reading achievement, highlight best practices, and build partnerships.