Riverside East elementary has been selected as a recipient of an Arkansas Reading First Grant. The $276,000 federal grant will be distributed over three years to be used to improve literacy achievement in kindergarten through third grade students.
Alicia Howell has accepted the position to serve as literacy coach for the project. Howell has 33 years of teaching experience.
"We heard about the Reading First information last year and I was excited about it," Howell said. "It has been proven to work and we were all excited when we heard we had been accepted for the grant."
Lyn Reisner and Pat Adcock wrote the grant application from information gathered by Riverside East principal Patty Hernandez, Gale Yates, Federal programs coordinator, Mrs. Howell, and librarian Beverly Roberson. They worked with Patricia Wilson, Reading First specialist with the Arkansas Department of Education.
"The project is supported by our superintendent, Larry Nowlin, our teachers, and our staff," Hernandez said.
Howell said the program is very structured and statistics show an overall success rate.
The grant will pay for teacher training, supplies, and materials.
Howell will take extensive training in her new position.
"She, along with other teachers, will be giving their time this summer to train," Hernandez said. "They are excited about it. Our aides have even asked if they could attend the training, also."
Hernandez and Howell agreed the program is a joint partnership.
A fourth through sixth grade literacy lab, under the direction of Sherry Nichols, was established at Riverside East and has been successful.
The Reading First program for the younger grades will tie in with the established program.
The Reading First program will be in place at the beginning of the 2006-07 school year.
Howell said she is very appreciative for the opportunity to work with the teachers and students.
"Through the Reading First program every student will be evaluated weekly and teachers will be able to see and work with individual needs," Howell said. "This grant will benefit our students, teachers and our district as a whole."
Connie Choate is the director for Arkansas Reading First.