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Bellarmine Literacy Project Continues a Successful Journey

Bellarmine Literacy Project Graduates

The Bellarmine Literacy Project is a professional learning collaborative initiative with a focus to provide teachers with the expert knowledge and tools to identify and address a child’s diagnostic and prescriptive needs related to the five components of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension).

Bullitt County Public Schools is looking to create an on-going professional learning experience that not only creates teacher leaders in this project, but also provides continuous support for new and past participants.

In partnership with Bellarmine University, this group of Bullitt County teachers, principals, and instructors engage in a long year of intense learning in early literacy - basically state of the art techniques used to teach young children to read well.

They do this on their own time and it is tough, but they get results.

This is the second year of this partnership and it bears fruit in higher levels of student learning. Grateful for every one of these professionals and their families who support their efforts. Definitely next level stuff.

All of 2017-2018 students are elementary teachers:

     Stacy Koch and Melissa Lowe of Cedar Grove; Kristen Axline, Rachel Fluharty, Rikki Smith and Lisa Jett of Freedom; Jennifer Burchett of Lebanon Junction; Jessica Borgelt, Sheila Johnson, Kelly Aikman, Ryan Manion and Nichole Fitzner of Maryville; Kara Brewer of Mt. Washington; Emily Whitley of Nichols; Sherry Adkins of Old Mill; Jennifer Hornback of Overdale; Wendy Stansbury of Pleasant Grove; and Courtney Haggerty and Paige Ralston of Roby.

Here are comments from participants such as Sheila Johnson.

“My reason for participating was two-fold,” she said. “First, I wanted to be on the same page as my colleagues. As of now, all primary teachers at MES have had the Bellarmine Literacy course. Second, I wanted to learn ways to hone in on the needs of my students. Literacy is the most important skill of all. I need to make the most of the time I have with each student. BLP has helped me accomplish both goals.”

Rikki Smith had the following remarks:

“I participated in the Bellarmine Literacy Project to learn proven strategies to help struggling readers become more independent,” she reflected. “I learned strategies that I could implement in my lessons the following day after class. Students enjoyed the lessons and their scores grew as well.”

Smith also wrote about how the experience will make a difference in her teaching.

“I know the Bellarmine Literacy Project impacted my classroom because of students PASS scores,” she noted, “I also had students who were non-readers, reading independently at the end of the year. The data gained from the PASS assessment allowed me to fill in instructional gaps where students were missing content. Once those gaps were filled, and as they continue to be filled, the sky is the limit for these little readers!”

Jennifer Hornback said she decided to participate in the BLP because she was moved to a primary classroom and had never taught below third grade.

“I wanted as much help in reading instruction as I could get since it varies so much in the younger grades,” she said adding project participation has already begun to impact her classroom.

“I have noticed that the repeated chorale reading has improved my students’ fluency as well as has given them something they enjoy practicing on a daily basis,” she explained. “I also needed the explanation of Marzano’s steps to help with vocabulary instruction. It has given me a daily routine to help students learn new vocabulary and offered suggestions for meaningful ways to practice using the new vocabulary. I had limited knowledge of completing running records and was taught how. More importantly, I was taught how to utilize the data gained from running records. Phonemic awareness was foreign to me as was the impact it has on reading. Now, I have a working knowledge of how to instruct on PA skills. Overall, BLP prepared me for the new grade I was in. I am excited to participate in year 2 in order to dig further into guided reading instruction.

Cedar Grove Elementary School teacher Stacy Koch cited her reason for participating was to have a refresher of best practices in literacy.

“I was hopeful for positive impacts on my students. It really reiterated the processes I learned at Bellarmine many years ago and added to my toolbox for teaching reading!” she said. “It helped me to put emphasis where individuals really need work. The impact it had on my students while learning various techniques, assessments, and best practices were all positive.

Koch said she hopes to start next year with initiatives ready to go for optimal growth.

“I was eager to implement components like steps in vocabulary instruction into the small group lesson. Students were excited and seemed to let that excitement be the incentive for learning challenging words!” she affirmed.

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Bullitt County Public Schools
1040 Highway 44 East
Shepherdsville, KY 40165