TDOE Highlights Reading 360 Family Literacy Events and Community Partnerships

Monday, March 13, 2023 | 09:00am


Engaging Families, Schools, and Communities Across
the State to Support Early Literacy

Nashville—Throughout Tennessee Literacy Month in March, the Tennessee Department of Education is highlighting family literacy events and community engagement opportunities for students and families across Tennessee. These events are in collaboration with community partners committed to helping their areas of the state cultivate a culture of literacy proficiency.

Throughout March Literacy Month, as proclaimed by Governor Bill Lee, the department is emphasizing the importance of literacy in K-12 education and Tennessee’s comprehensive Reading 360 approach to improve literacy rates statewide.  

“We all know parents are a child’s first teacher, and as a parent of three young children, I understand the importance of early literacy because it sets a child up for lifelong success," said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We are thrilled that so many community partners across the state are coming alongside us to host family engagement events and promoting the importance of reading to ensure all students are set up for the future.”

The department is participating in family literacy events across the state, including partnering with The Memphis Lift to bring literacy awareness to the Memphis community at family literacy event by sharing informational flyers, speaking with families in attendance, and passing out free At-Home Decodable books.  

“Parents know what’s best for their child and their family, and they want to be involved in their child’s education,” said Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director, The Memphis Lift. “I am grateful to the department for involving Memphis parents and providing resources so they can help their children become strong readers and have a chance at a successful future.”

Collaboration with communities is essential to the Reading 360 strategic initiative. Through a partnership with the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Reading Research Center is conducting research on the impacts of the Reading 360 initiative to ensure all progress and improvement is captured, and that programmatic efforts are based on data-driven outcomes and be targeted toward student needs.

Additionally, the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) works with the department on several programs to provide children and communities with access to high-quality literacy resources. GELF provides at-home reading resources, including our At-Home Decodables for free, to all Tennessee families of K-2 children, and their Book Bus program establishes mobile libraries that travel to high-need neighborhoods.  

The department has several partnerships with non-profit organizations across the state including Niswonger Foundation, Literacy Mid-South, and United Way of Greater Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. These partners follow the state’s high-dosage, low-ratio tutoring model within their local programs, serving an additional 20,000 students with TN ALL Corps, the state’s tutoring program, which focuses on targeted support and instruction in ELA and math.  

Additionally, during the month, Riley the Reading Raccoon will be visiting over 35 Tennessee school districts around the state to observe strong literacy instruction in classrooms. These school visits will spotlight over 230 teachers and highlight their hard work and dedication to student success.  

“We look forward to having Riley visit Blythe-Bower Elementary to celebrate March Literacy Month. Our teachers and students have worked extremely hard to implement the reading standards and our high-quality curriculum,” said Russell Dyer, Director of Schools, Cleveland City Schools. “I can’t wait for them to showcase their work!”

“We look forward to showcasing all the wonderful instruction occurring at Calhoun School. This will be a great treat for our students and teachers,” said Julie Goodin, Pre-K-2 Supervisor, McMinn County Schools. “Thank you for this opportunity to highlight our wonderful school district.”

“We are excited that Riley Racoon is coming to visit Rhea School,” said Sandra Paschall, Instructional Supervisor, Paris Special School District. “We love to celebrate all things literacy and are looking forward to sharing with Riley and all our friends from TDOE.”  

“What an honor to have Riley the Raccoon visit North Hamilton County Elementary in Hamilton County Schools next week! He will love his time there because he will see students spending dedicated time in literacy practicing what they are learning from explicit skills instruction and from knowledge-building time,” said Yvette Stewart, Elementary Supervisor, Hamilton County Schools. “Principal Hauth is an amazing leader who believes and supports all students to thrive and experience a future without limits!”

Additional resources for families can be accessed on Best for All Central at Family Resources and Literacy Resources for Families. To access additional resources on Reading 360, click here.