Amy Bellamy Hired as Distrcit Literacy Coach
This article originally appeared in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer on 6/3/18.
Amy Bellamy said she has always loved literature and helping students better their reading and writing skills. Now, in her new position as Owensboro Public Schools' literacy coach, she'll have the opportunity to help other OPS educators in those fields as well.
"One of the things that I love about teaching is being able to share with kids," Bellamy said. "How can we hook kids to get them engaged, how can we change it up, how can we do this in a fun, new way?"
Bellamy, who has taught language arts at Owensboro Middle School North for 12 years, began her new position Monday. It's perfect for her, she said, because she has always had a passion for English and literature. She received a bachelor's degree in English literature and a bachelor's degree in education, both from Kentucky Wesleyan College. She also has a master's degree in K-12 literacy from University of the Cumberlands, and received her Rank I from Morehead State University.
The district was awarded the $631,250 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant that will be dispersed over two years. With the grant, OPS created the literacy coach position.
The literacy coach serves as the resident expert and consultant, and will work "lockstep with schools providing teachers professional learning in and around research-based literacy models," according to Matthew Constant, OPS chief academic officer.
Bellamy has worked as a mentor for new teachers, and has been a content leader at OMS-N. One thing she enjoys about teaching is having the opportunity to share with educators new tips and ideas for strengthening their curriculums, she said.
One of the biggest obstacles that OPS students face regarding literacy is something all educators are faced with -- keeping them engaged in reading and writing when there are so many distractions, she said.
She also said OPS' large at-risk population of students who come from households where they are not read to, especially from an early age, can be difficult.
Now, she will have the chance to be in classrooms with other teachers to observe and to provide assistance. That is something many teachers need, she said.
Teaching is exhausting, she said, and teachers could use all the help they can get. Maybe they need help finding a new strategy to teach reading and writing, or maybe they need to learn a new skill.
"Teachers don't have time to research," Bellamy said. "You are juggling so many things with planning and grading and parent contacts, and all of the things you have to do. At the end of the day, you're exhausted. The last thing you want to do is sit down and figure out how to do things differently."
The professional development Bellamy will provide to OPS teachers across curriculums and content areas will help them then train the next generation of educators, which will also help to foster leadership throughout the teaching population regarding literacy, according to Emily Baur, OPS grant consultant.
Baur said this will be professional development for all teachers because literacy does not just involve reading and language arts. All subjects and disciplines involve literacy to some degree.
This literacy grant is a piece of the U.S. Department of Education $24.9 million awarded to the Kentucky Department of Education to combat the same issues, and according to KDE, the project will serve 200,000 children and students, 14,000 Kentucky teachers and other early learning specialists at 600 sites in 45 public schools districts, OPS being one.
Some of the objectives, according to KDE, will be to focus on kindergarten readiness, strengthening oral language skills for 4-year-olds, and increasing reading at all educational levels.
The grant will be used to streamline the district's literacy efforts from birth to grade 12 with the help of eight community partners: H.L. Neblett Center, Imagination Library, Daviess County Public Library, Audubon Area Community Services Head Start, Green River District Health Department First Steps, Owensboro Community & Technical College, Brescia University and Footsteps to Brilliance.
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315, Twitter: @BobbieHayseMI
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