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During the 2024-2025 academic year, Newton Education Foundation and Newton County Schools will partner with REAP – Reading is Essential for all People, on an exciting literacy pilot.

REAP is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving reading proficiency in Georgia public school students by providing public school teachers with specialized training in reading instruction called Structured Literacy. These training approaches are helpful for any child, in any classroom, small group, or one-on-one situation, and are especially critical for struggling readers.

Teachers from the Kindergarten and 1st grade teams at South Salem Elementary and East Newton Elementary will participate in the pilot which will provide 10 days of professional learning throughout the year.  Teachers will immediately be able to use what they are learning to improve reading instruction in the classroom.

By the end of the training, teachers will be able to utilize Structured Literacy teaching techniques to deliver explicit reading instruction to meet the needs of their students. They will also gain a deeper understanding of the progression of reading skills and how to match instruction to the needs of the students and teach these skills in a dynamic way.

REAP Literacy Leaders were recently recognized with the Deanna Burgess Award for Teacher Preparation from the John H. Lounsbury College of Education at Georgia College and State University. REAP has trained hundreds of GCSU pre-service teachers in Structured Literacy over the past 5 years. They have experience working in over 120 schools and have trained over 1700 Georgia public school teachers.  

The two schools chosen for the pilot represent the diversity of the county.  East Newton is the smaller of the two schools and principal Teresa Sauls was immediately onboard when she learned of the opportunity.  “This partnership is a blessing to East Newton as it will provide our teachers with the framework and knowledge base necessary to enhance their instructional practices and provide students with the best possible literacy instruction.  Our teachers bring both years of experience and a growth mindset.  They love their jobs, and this, combined with the new knowledge gleaned through the REAP partnership, will impact East Newton and change our student lives for the better.”

Dr. Vanshelle Turner, Principal of South Salem Elementary was equally enthusiastic, seeing the partnership with REAP as a great way to ensure that every teacher has a variety of tools to reach different types of learners.  “Without a doubt, literacy is the key to a scholar’s academic achievement and lifelong learning. Improving literacy skills opens doors to critical thinking, creativity, and communication, empowering our Newton County scholars to navigate the complexities of the world around them. Through the REAP literacy initiative, we will empower teachers and help them create a path of success for each scholar and foster a love for reading, writing, and learning that transcends the classroom. On behalf of the South Salem family, we are thrilled to partner with REAP so that we can “Level Up” for Literacy!

The leadership and support of these two principals, along with the deep experience that REAP brings to the partnership, make this a win win for Newton County students.

The program will be funded by the Newton Education Foundation through grants and donations that are made via the Peach Tax Credit.  To learn more about how you can support this important work through the Peach Tax Credit, click here.

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