Evanston news delivered free to your inbox! 

We at Foundation 65 would like to acknowledge and thank a dedicated group of District 65 teachers and administrators, and to celebrate some early successes they and their students have seen in growing early literacy skills. District educators have been working diligently to implement the new K-3 literacy framework, and Foundation 65 was given the opportunity to support a significant part of this effort. Through a grant called Project REACH (Roots of Evanston ACHievement), Foundation 65 has committed to $230,000 for the first two years of a three-year grant. Recently our F65 board received an update on the first year of Project REACH, and we heard some very positive news.

Our teachers are all in – ALL of our amazing kindergarten and first-grade teachers are taking part in professional development opportunities, and 70% have signed up for in-class coaching. Reading interventionists, special educators, and principals also opted in to learn more about effective implementation of the language workshop curriculum for our youngest learners and are actively supporting classroom teachers as they make this instructional transition.

Our community is engaging to help: Last year teachers designed and piloted a new, volunteer-based support for kindergarten students who face a gap in their pre-literacy skills. This year children at five schools are spending time in school with more than 20 caring adult volunteers who help address knowledge and word gaps and cultivate joy in reading, through Kindergarten Literacy Partners.

Our youngest students are growing their literacy skills, and initial results show alignment with D65’s equity goals. Overall, more kindergarten and first-grade students met reading benchmarks at year’s end in comparison with a 5-year baseline. For Black kindergarteners, the percent meeting benchmarks rose significantly more than anticipated, 11.8% from 64.1% to 75.9%. For students who showed gaps in kindergarten readiness, the percent meeting benchmarks increased 7.8% over the five-year baseline.

The first year’s results were promising, and the lessons learned offer both room for growth and areas for adjustment. Significant shifts in teaching practice take time, dedication, and persistence. That is why the Foundation 65 board of directors would like to specifically acknowledge the educators who are committed to this work. We are thankful for the opportunity to bring community support to our public schools and proud to partner with District 65 on strategic, student-centered initiatives like this one.

We hope you will share our heartfelt appreciation with the educators listed below.

Foundation 65 would like to thank the following educators publicly for their dedication and professionalism, and for participating in the professional learning, coaching, and supports for K/1 literacy. We are also deeply grateful for the many reading interventionists, special educators, and principals who are actively supporting classroom teachers and students with this work.

Kindergarten Teachers: Chelcea Alexander, Dana Burris, Maria Alvarez, Sharrell Anderson, Chris Brigson, Jennifer Carbone, Jeanne Chase, Marie Chery, Jennifer Colbert, Jennifer Dabul, Gregory Daniels, Beatriz Di Frisco, Elizabeth Hale, Amelia Haran, Randy Heite, Sara Herford, Chris Hinsley, Yessenia Jacome, Claire Lawrence, Kristen Mitchell, Latasha Mitchell, Cenietta Mullins, Cody New, Jennifer Nichols, Krystyn Nordeen, Faye Pais, Tammy Plofsky, Kelly Post, Kathy Pouper, Monica Ptak, Erin Raab, Enice Reyes, Meghan Rice, Staci Rosenberg, Robyn Simmons, Saronita Skipworth, Sarah Stumme, Brandy Trafman, Mayra Velazquez, Barbara Wahle, Sarah Yoo, and Alyssa Zuravel.

Administrators: Stacy Beardsley and Elizabeth Cardenas-Lopez

First-Grade Teachers: Victoria Bardic, Maria Barraza, Claudia Braithwaite, Yvonne Cabrera, Caroline Caruthers, Jamie Cohen, Rian Davis, Esther DeLuca, Stephanie Deutsch, Lindsey Engle, Jennifer Federer Juana Fernandez-Hamer, Lara Galicia, Bevitt Gibney, Jessica Hughes, Elizabeth Jean-Pierre, Maeve Kanaley, Khristie Kaplan, Alex Kensinger, Judy Killheffer, Anna Lieteau, Adam Macedo, Melissa Maki, Katherine McMaster, Kim Mento, Abby Murokh, Candis Murphy, Brittany Noble, Colleen O’Connor, Wala Ottman, Cristina Pedrero-Gonzalez, Leslie Perkins, Kim Policape, Ami Shah, Vanessa Shropshire, Angel Sovich, Lisa Spillman, Amy Sullivan, Rebecca Waller, and Mary Young.

Instructional Coaches: Cathy Doyle, Eva Martin, Jill Schlossberg, and Jennifer Schneider.

Ms. Jinno is Executive Director and Ms. Lequar, Board President, of Foundation 65.