Hear how a rural, high-poverty school with a large minority population improved reading scores. Getting students on grade level right from the start is crucial but was not happening in my kindergarten classroom. While teaching students from low socioeconomic status, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities, I saw firsthand the barriers that these students faced to building foundational literacy skills. I systematically set out to help my students gain the skills they needed. It was not easy, but the results were dramatic. Hear my journey to affect significant change, from convincing administration to implementing a multi-sensory approach that is explicit, systematic, highly engaging, and research-based. I will share multi-year data that shows how we can truly change the course of a child’s education by closing the reading gap right from the start!
For seven years, Caitlin has taught in early childhood classrooms and has provided school-wide professional development on improving early literacy outcomes. After moving districts from North Carolina to South Carolina, she saw the inequities that students from diverse backgrounds face, especially when it came to reading difficulties. These experiences compelled her to become an advocate for her students and to reject the idea that their circumstances or ethnicity meant that they could not be successful. In 2018, Caitlin was named District Teacher of the Year for Saluda County Schools. She has found a way for her students to be successful in early literacy and wants to share her experience with other educators.
Merriman Nichols is the Director of Intervention and Enrichment for Kershaw County Schools in South Carolina. Merriman worked at the South Carolina Department of Education previously before coming to Kershaw County. During that time, she planned and executed a statewide framework for MTSS. Merriman has also served as a Title I elementary principal, middle and elementary assistant principal, and instructional coach.She has received training through the Principals as Executive Program in school administrators as instructional leaders and was chosen to participate in the Distinguished Leaders Program. Merriman graduated as a teaching fellow from the Honors College at Western Carolina University and earned a Master of School Administration degree from Gardner Webb University.