Gazebo Gazette

JACKSON (GG) — The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Division of Literacy announces the first graduates of the Literacy Coach Academy of Mississippi (LCAM) and Pass Christian School District Teacher Alison Pace was one of them. A celebratory program was held at MDE Tuesday, June 11 for the 13 individuals to receive their certificates of completion.

The LCAM is a new professional development program that provides individuals who currently serve or will serve in a coaching role in any school district to receive the same onboarding coach training as MDE literacy coaches.

The Literacy-Based Promotion Act requires MDE to hire and train literacy coaches to support teachers and school leaders at literacy support schools, which are Mississippi public elementary schools in need of reading intervention based on the annual third-grade reading assessment. However, some districts hire their own literacy coaches to help strengthen literacy instruction in their schools.

The MDE created the LCAM in response to those districts’ needs to have literacy coaches who are effectively trained by the MDE Division of Literacy.

The LCAM is a free, year-long learning program designed to prepare K-5 school- and district-based literacy coaches to support teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators in the implementation of literacy best practices grounded in the Science of Reading (SoR). Acceptance into the LCAM is application-based, and participants must meet specific criteria.

“The impact of the Literacy Coach Academy of Mississippi should lead to an increase of highly trained coaches across the state, a more defined coaching role within districts, and a better understanding of evidence-based practices to support student achievement,” said Kristen Wynn, MDE State Literacy Director. “We are unaware of another state offering this type of literacy coach training.”

The LCAM cohort one graduates are:

  1. Kimberly Bailey – Meridian Public School District
  2. Bernita Barnes – Jackson Public Schools
  3. Kristin Gilmer – Lamar County School District
  4. Leslie Holloway – Pearl Public School District
  5. Leigh Jackson – Brookhaven School District
  6. Marlene Jackson – Laurel School District
  7. Brittany Lyles – Jefferson County School District
  8. Alison Pace – Pass Christian Public School District
  9. Rachel Powell – Brookhaven School District
  10. Stacie Russell – North Tippah School District
  11. Tia Thompson – Meridian Public School District
  12. Deja Townsend – Columbus Municipal School District
  13. Kristin Walters – Laurel School District

Throughout the program, participants gain intensive training of a successful literacy coaching model, receive knowledge building grounded in the SoR, increase capacity in the Structured Literacy approach to support teachers in lesson delivery grounded in SoR, observe and model content to better transfer to their coaching practices, join a cohort of school-and district-based literacy coaches who will serve as a professional learning community, receive actionable feedback and guidance during on-site visits and virtual classes, and earn 5.8 continuing education credits (CEUs) required for Mississippi Educator License recertification.

The first LCAM cohort participants applied to the program by March 2023, and the program began in May 2023. The second LCAM cohort is underway. LCAM cohort three applications will open in January 2025.