College of Education and Human Sciences

Program Provides Essential Training for Elementary Teachers

Jun. 16, 2022



Michelle R. Eubanks , UNA, at meubanks@una.edu, 256.765.4392

FLORENCE, AL – The University of North Alabama’s College of Education and Human Science (COEHS), UNA’s Regional Inservice Center, and the Alabama Reading Initiative have partnered in order to support elementary teachers in the science of reading. Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, or LETRS, is an innovative program that provides educators and administrators with deep knowledge to be literacy and language experts in the science of reading.

“The Alabama Legislature has prioritized reading as the foundation of learning in our schools,” said Rep. Jamie Kiel, in whose district UNA falls. “Teachers, both new and veteran, must be experts in the science of reading in the elementary classroom. LETRS provides a tool for educators to gain new insight into how children learn to read. The state has actively promoted LETRS for current teachers. By taking the initiative to have their students LETRS trained, UNA has once again shown that it is Alabama’s Workforce Development University.”

The Alabama Literacy Act was established to improve reading proficiency for students in grades K-3 in public schools and ensure that those students read at or above grade level by the end of the third grade. Enter LETRS and the science-based training to assist teachers in achieving this goal. Since it was piloted in Alabama, approximately 200 elementary educators have participated in this training.

Listening to and responding to the needs of local school districts is critical to the mission of the Educator Preparation Program at UNA, according to University officials.

“We have heard from our districts that they need help in getting teachers trained as quickly and as early as possible in their careers, so they can have the greatest impact on students,” said Dr. Katie Kinney, COEHS Dean. “We worked collaboratively to create this model that engages our recent graduates to take their knowledge of the science of reading to the next level in their practice. We’re not finished with our graduates when they complete our program. We are committed to helping inform and shape their practice throughout the course of their entire professional development.”

Because LETRS training is so rigorous, Kinney, along with COEHS Professor Dr. Lisa Clayton, Inservice Center Director Dr. Deanna Hollimon, and Regional Literacy Leadership Specialist Dr.

Amy Jones will collaborate to help teachers complete the training. This support system will allow teachers to be less overwhelmed and ensure they receive high-quality professional learning and ongoing support, according to Hollimon.

“This opportunity will initially impact the teachers who participate,” Hollimon said. “Ultimately, the students that those teachers serve will receive the greatest impact. The goal is for our students to be proficient in reading by the end of third grade. We hope to achieve this by supporting our teachers with this effort.”

Teachers will have opportunities to take part in this training this year, as well as in 2023 and 2024. Training will begin on July 19, and the program will continue throughout the academic year with the integration of online modules, bridge practice unites, and consultant sessions.

First-year elementary teachers, returning elementary teachers, special education teachers, reading interventionists, and elementary instruction leaders are eligible to participate in the first cohort of LETRS training through the Regional Inservice Center. Priority will be given to those assigned to grades K-3.

About The University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs through the colleges of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering; Business and Technology; Education and Human Sciences; and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. Occupying a 130-acre campus in a residential section of Florence, Alabama, UNA is located within a four-city area that also includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. UNA Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I’s ASUN Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/