Marietta schools to use $2.5M grant to improve childhood literacy

Marietta High School media specialist Laura Gary-Michel (left) helps Henry Watson connect to his virtual learning class at the Emily Lembeck Learning Center in Marietta on Aug. 5, 2020. The learning center is part of the Marietta City Schools district. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Caption
Marietta High School media specialist Laura Gary-Michel (left) helps Henry Watson connect to his virtual learning class at the Emily Lembeck Learning Center in Marietta on Aug. 5, 2020. The learning center is part of the Marietta City Schools district. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Marietta City Schools will lead a community-wide initiative to help every child in the city be a proficient reader by the end of third grade.

The school system will use a $2.5 million grant to implement the Literacy and Justice for All initiative. The grant will provide resources to educate parents, teachers and other stakeholders about healthy brain development and the science that shows the benefits of reading to children at an early age, Marietta City Schools said in its news release.

Funding is also set aside to provide training for prekindergarten teachers. Marietta City Schools Superintendent Grant Rivera said the project is unique because it goes beyond the classroom to inform parents and other caretakers the importance of reading.

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The district’s plan is to provide the same opportunities to children who aren’t reading on grade level as those who are reading in the 99th percentile of their peers, the superintendent said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Our belief is that this is not K through 3 initiative,” said Rivera, referring to four elementary school grade levels. “This initiative is for the entire city.”

The grant will also provide resources to invest in new ideas and expand successful ones, the district’s news release said.

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The funding is allocated by United Way with support from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation. Other partners include the city of Marietta, Atlanta Speech School’s Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, Learn4Life, Cobb Collaborative, Quality Care for Children and Kennesaw State University.

Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin, quoted in the news release, said the city is committed to the success of the project.

The program “will bring opportunities for these young minds to reach new levels of education,” he said.