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2/10/2016

Niswonger Foundation May Partner with Greene County Schools to Increase Literacy


The Niswonger Foundation hopes to increase literacy in Greene County by partnering with the Greene County School System.

The Greene County Board of Education heard from the Foundation's staff during a board workshop in early February.  One of the topics discussed was a partnership between the school system and the Foundation aimed at increasing K-2 literacy across the district.

The idea of this partnership came about after a meeting between Dr. Nancy Dishner, president and CEO of the Foundation, Dr. Richard Kitzmiller, Niswonger Foundation director of programs and outreach, Greene County School Board members and county school officials along with SCORE staff in Nashville. 

"We are beginning something that we think is going to be a really powerful partnership between the Niswonger Foundation and the Greene County Schools," Dr. Dishner said.

The project will be called Greene County/Niswonger Foundation Literacy Initiative.  The initiative would begin with a pilot program in which 20 teachers in three elementary schools would participate for three years. "The reason for that is tracking the kids so we have a real record to see if what we're doing is making a difference," Dishner said.

A literacy specialist would provide support to  participating teachers. More technology would be made available for these teachers and their students. Stipends would be provided since participating teachers would be asked to do more, stated Vivian Franklin, coordinator of Educational Opportunities at the Foundation.

These teachers would receive ongoing professional development with continuous followup and support over the three-year pilot.

This will be a data-driven process, so we will be looking just to make sure that what we're doing can be justified," Dishner added.

The three schools that will be involved in the initiative will not be announced until a formal signing of responsibilities, Dishner said.

"The plan is to provide the professional development to the teachers this summer so they will be ready to implement in the classrooms this fall," she said.

If the K-2 literacy initiative proves to be successful, it could spread beyond the pilot schools.

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