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Summer reading project for teachers held at MSU Paducah Regional Campus

MURRAY, Ky. -- Murray State University's college of education and human services was host to the Kentucky Reading Project summer institute this June at the MSU Paducah Regional Campus. "The MSU Paducah Campus is proud to serve as the host site for the Kentucky Reading Project. The KRP fits right in with our mission to serve the region," Dan Lavitt, assistant dean of MSU Regional Academic Outreach, said.

The project is a professional development initiative for Kentucky public school elementary teachers designed to improve student achievement and emphasize family involvement in literacy. KRP is a year-long, graduate level reading course consisting of a summer institute, four follow-up sessions during the year and at least one coaching visit to each teacher's classroom. Fourteen teachers from five schools participated in this year's KRP summer institute, representing the school districts of McCracken, Calloway, Christian and Marshall counties, and the Murray and Mayfield Independent districts.

A different theme was used each day of the institute. Themes included applying theory and research, comprehension, reading and writing across the curriculum, and providing assistance to struggling readers. Teachers participated in activities that included strategy demonstrations, discussions of personal theories about literacy, literature circles and guest presenters. Participants also developed Literacy Action Plans for their classrooms focused on a balanced literacy approach to improve their knowledge and instructional practices in literacy.

Teachers participating in the course were enthusiastic about sharing their views of the project. "The Kentucky Reading Project was hands down the best move I have made in my teaching career. In just two weeks, I already feel so empowered to teach reading and literacy to young minds. I look forward to the follow up sessions so I can reflect upon tried practices and learn more with my amazing cadre. The KRP has given me a network in which I can collaborate with reading teachers across the region and state so that we can all work together to ensure that our students succeed," Jessica Campbell, a teacher from McCracken County, said.

"KRP was truly an amazing opportunity," Laken Mike, a teacher at Mayfield, added. "Although it was a lot of work, the work was relevant to bettering my career and, in the end, didn't even feel like I was working. I had the opportunity to be inspired by other teachers and grow as an educator through their stories. Without a doubt, KRP has been the most beneficial learning experience I've had in my field. We spent a majority of the time in research-based material so we could do what is best for our future students, and every bit of it was practical and useful for all teachers of any ages."

The teachers selected for participation in the Kentucky Reading Project receive a professional stipend, literacy resources, teaching materials and three hours of graduate credit upon completion of the course. The KRP is a statewide initiative by the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD). CCLD is a collaboration between Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky State, Morehead State, Murray State, Northern Kentucky and Western Kentucky universities, and the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, along with the National Center for Family Literacy.

Dr. Jacqueline Hansen, professor and chair of the MSU department of early childhood and elementary education, and Dr. Christina Grant, associate professor in the department of early childhood and elementary education, are co-directors of KRP. Holly Bloodworth, the 2013 Kentucky Teacher of the Year and National Board Certified Teacher at Murray Elementary School, serves as Master Teacher.

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