School of Education, Charleston County Schools target literacy
Charles Manning Blakely raised some eyebrows when he started a school-based book club for students at C.E. Williams Middle School. What’s a math teacher doing creating and leading a book club?
"Smply put, I enjoy reading immensely and felt there was a need for instilling that love for literature in our students,” he said. “I am using the skills I have learned over the last two years at The Citadel to change the thought process of literacy in all classrooms at our school. “
Inspired by his graduate work at The Citadel, Manning rallied support from visual arts and English Language Arts teachers and a media specialist to incorporate vocabulary, decoding skills and to infuse literacy strategies in all subject areas and throughout his school. Teachers were encouraged to read aloud to their students for a few minutes each day and were trained and coached on how to make vocabulary and reading fun for students.
Manning, who was teacher of the year last year at his middle school, will graduate Sunday from The Citadel Graduate College with a Master of Education – Literacy Education degree. He is among a unique group of 22 Charleston County teachers who participated in the School of Education’s first literacy cohort. The students entered the program in 2008 and for the next two years took all their graduate courses at the same time. The partnership between The Citadel’s School of Education and the Charleston County School District split the tuition cost between the teachers, the school district and The Citadel. In return the participating teachers have committed to teaching in the district.
“It is a unique collaborative arrangement where everyone benefits,” said Jennifer Altieri, literacy education coordinator and a School of Education professor. “This is an exciting time for members of the literacy cohort and their families, the School of Education faculty, and the children in the Charleston County School District who these graduates will impact on a daily basis.”
Taking every class with the same group of students for two years could be challenging. But it allowed Manning and his classmates to learn from the diverse experience levels in the group, which included teachers just starting out in their classroom careers and educators with more than 25 years experience.
“Completing the masters in literacy with the cohort was a great experience,” said Sara Buckley, who teachers 8th grade math and pre-Algebra at Cario Middle School. “We look at each other as a family and we were able to support each other through the entire two-year process.”
Patricia Harrison, a literacy specialist at the Academic Military Magnet school said the group’s united spirit helped each of them make their way through the coursework.
“Taking six semesters of coursework with the same group of people helped make the process very focused and seamless,” she said. “The literacy cohort was a fantastic experience!”
Harrison’s first teaching experience, and her interest in reading education, was with learning disabled students where she became a certified Orton-Gillingham reading teacher. Orton-Gillingham is an instructional approach intended primarily for use with people who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing of the sort associated with dyslexia.
“Reading became my passion as I saw the differences literacy made when I worked with struggling adolescent readers,” Harrison said. “I had always wanted to add reading certification to my credentials and was thrilled when the district joined with The Citadel to offer the Literacy degree. I felt that the program was perfectly aligned to my professional interests.”
The Citadel Graduate College commencement begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 9 in McAlister Field House. The Graduate College will confer 313 graduate and evening undergraduate degrees.
Class of 2010 literacy cohort
|Sharon Bowden Ansley||Patricia Moore Harrison|
|Jennifer Asby||Kristin L. Hutto|
|Jennifer Black||Rebecca Kutcher|
|Charles Manning Blakely||Kelly M. Lozier|
|Sara Buckley||Jamiell Matesi|
|Lisa Ciarniello||Rhonda Richmond|
|Erin O’Connell Freeland||Sandra Lee Scagline|
|Berneta Jonai Gourdine||Ashley Sherrer|
|Jonetta Gregory||Caroline B. Tamsberg|
|Angie Grimes||Amy Treneff|
|Lisa Harbeson||Regina Vass Walker|