Harless Center receives grant for early childhood literacy

The June Harless Center for Rural Educational Research and Development, College of Education and Professional Development, has recently been awarded a $500,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) to assist with the implementation of the West Virginia Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

The WVDE Office of Early Learning is leading the campaign that aims to close the reading achievement gap by third grade by focusing on four main components: school readiness, attendance, extended school day and high-quality instruction. Individual counties will develop personalized literacy plans that attend to each of these components based on county-specific needs. The Harless Center will use the awarded grant money to support each county team in achieving their individual goals.

Four early literacy specialists have been hired by the June Harless Center to work on the campaign. Tarabeth Brumfield, Program Development Officer, addressed the need for support. “The team of early literacy specialists were recruited and hired based on their knowledge of best practices in reading instruction as well as their creativity and leadership skills. Our county systems work diligently to increase student achievement; however, as a state we are still struggling. Our hope is that the team of early literacy specialists can provide the much needed support that counties deserve to get the job done.”

The literacy specialists will collaborate with county grade-level reading teams in the 55 counties to assist in the implementation of their individualized plans. They will be responsible for engaging community partners to create a culture of literacy for families and children, providing an outreach to assist in professional development, and assisting in the collection of data to drive high-quality classroom instruction.