• As we begin 2021, one of our major areas of focus as a school district remains literacy and building capacity within our school district to promote and cultivate reading and writing at all grade levels.  The school district was fortunate to receive a Literacy Grant last spring which over the next five years will total approximately $2 million in resources and supports for literacy in our school buildings.  The grant has allowed the school district to expand on staffing directed toward improving literacy at all grade levels K-12 in the form of literacy coaches, our Director of Teaching and Learning position, as well as other curriculum resources and supports.  The school district has identified literacy as a major focus for all grade levels with a focus at the middle and high school levels based on assessment scores at those levels.  Literacy is a core component vital to all levels of education and ultimately student success.  Strong literacy levels have a correlation with academic success and overall student confidence and opportunities related to post-secondary education and general quality of life.  The goal of the literacy grant and over the next several years is to identify ways for students to improve their reading/writing skills and provide our teachers with best practice, research-based methods to help promote literacy especially at the upper grade levels of which the desire to read both academically and recreationally often begins to subside.  
    One of the first steps in this process is to create an environment that promotes and makes reading exciting at all levels.  The school district is initiating several projects at this time targeted to literacy and getting more adults involved in the process.  The high school recently completed a successful book drive project that collected books for the library as well as over $6,000.00 in donations that will be used to refresh and add books of student interest in our middle and high school libraries.  The book drive was a great start to the overall goal of making reading exciting for students and building a culture which can ignite a lifelong enjoyment of literature.  WCHS senior, Levi Sanford, led this effort and is a great example of our students engaging in community activities and providing resources to the school district to promote literacy with our high school students – thank you Levi for this great effort!
    The school district has also identified the next step in our literacy initiatives which includes establishing literacy circles or book clubs at each of our school buildings to encourage all students and employees in each building to be reading the same book and engage in conversations and events related to the book and celebrate the overall excitement of reading.  Each building will create unique opportunities for their staff and students to safely interact and discuss the book as well as collaborate on events that celebrate the completion of the book.  As parents or community members, it is important for us to model for our students and participate in reading to show its value in our everyday lives.  This next phase will look to get adults in our buildings participating with students with reading, however, our next steps will also be reaching out to the community to participate in these events and promote reading in the community at-large and engagement in our school district activities.  
    The school board made the decision this month to utilize a portion of its Foundation, created with donated funds from community members, to support the book club concept at all of our buildings and to fund books for this purpose.  The $10,000 provided by the Foundation for this purpose will go toward the books required and to support the events associated with the book in each building.  This support provides the opportunity to continue and build upon our literacy efforts both with the Literacy Grant as well as local efforts to promote a general love and appreciation of reading as well as build capacity for students to pursue any pathway following graduation.  The school district remains committed to finding new ways to promote literacy and student engagement at all levels and appreciates the efforts of the school board and community to support this initiative. 
    The school district recognizes the need to focus on our literacy challenges in the school district and in particular, the middle and high school levels.  These efforts, coupled with our work with curriculum and promoting time specifically for reading and library utilization, will hopefully bring rewards to our students and reflect in our future academic successes.  Any support for literacy and other school district projects is greatly appreciated; the individuals that have donated funds to our Foundation are important in our ability to continue and provide the best options for students and promote new opportunities.  If you are interested in our MCPSD #1 Foundation, please visit our website or inquire at the district office on how to learn more about the Foundation and what it can do for our students. 
    Happy New Year to everyone…hoping for an exciting and safe 2021.