GF Elementary honored for reading initiative

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

By Billy Stidham

Green Forest Elementary os one of 10 schools across Arkansas to receive the Reading Initiative for Student Excellence (R.I.S.E.) award from The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and Governor Asa Hutchinson for their efforts to increase reading instruction, build community partnerships and promote a culture of reading.

“What we did differently was [we didn’t take] the program word for word but [we looked] at what our students needed as a whole,” said Green Forest superintendent Matt Summers. “We know how important language acquisition is at that age.”

“We’ve done different things throughout the year [like] book giveaways,” elementary principal Danette Chaney said. “We want to promote reading and loving reading in the home.”

Since Hutchinson and ADE launched R.I.S.E. Arkansas in January 2017, 320 educators have become R.I.S.E Academy trainers and coaches. Together those individuals have trained more than 6,000 K-6 teachers on reading instructional practices.

“I am extremely proud of these 10 schools for setting the example of reading excellence and making a profound difference in the lives of their students,” Hutchinson said in a news release. “I commend these exceptional educators, students, and administrators for their hard work and dedication to reading.”

ADE accepted nominations from R.I.S.E trainers who have completed a rigorous 14-day training on knowledge and skills of the science of reading. An ADE team visited each of the nominated schools and selected 10 that demonstrated a wide implementation of science of reading practices, administrative support for improved reading instruction, strengthened community partnerships, projects that promote a culture of reading, and serve as models of instructional best practices for other teachers.

Each winner received a trophy and will serve on a panel discussion at the summit to share implementation strategies and lessons learned with other educators.

“Change is never easy,” Chaney said, “but we need to make the changes to incorporate the science of reading. As a principal I want my teachers to understand why we’re doing this. It’s for our students.”

“We’re very proud of our elementary administration, teachers and students,” Summers said.“It takes a partnership. … To be one of 10 schools to be recognized in the state is a great honor.”

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