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Farmington Schools Receive Reading Honors

by Lynn Kutter | September 21, 2022 at 10:31 a.m.
COURTESY PHOTO Johnny Key, secretary of Arkansas Department of Education, congratulates Shannon Cantrell, Folsom Elementary principal, and some of her teachers after they accepted a 2022 RISE School Award this summer in Hot Springs.

FARMINGTON – Folsom Elementary and Farmington Middle School have each received a 2022 award for the statewide reading program called RISE, or Reading Initiative for Student Excellence.

The schools were recognized in July at the 2022 Arkansas Department of Education Summit, held at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

Ten schools in the state received a RISE award this year.

Williams Elementary in Farmington received a state RISE award for 2021, and Lincoln Elementary was recognized for its RISE program in 2019.

Both schools were honored for their awards at the School Board meeting in August.

Julia Williams, middle school principal, said her teachers did not know if they would earn the award this year.

"This was a very exciting honor," Williams told School Board members. "We really worked hard... The rubric is pretty tough and our teachers pulled together."

Williams noted that "Williams Elementary set the bar really high for us and we're really glad to join them."

Jon Laffoon, superintendent of schools, said both schools are great examples of combining Professional Learning Communities, collaborative team work and reading initiative for the benefit of students.

"We appreciate you guys impacting our readers so much," Laffoon said.

Shannon Cantrell, Folsom principal, said the state uses a rubric to score applications on how they are meeting the goals of the reading initiative.

For 2022, 31 schools submitted applications, and 22 schools advanced to the second round for a day-long evaluation with less than half of these receiving a state award for 2022.

The goal of the visit, Cantrell said, is to look at schoolwide implementation of reading strategies and how these practices align with science of reading.

Those who came to observe watched full lessons in multiple grades in different parts of reading instruction, comprehension and fluency, Cantrell said. They looked at local assessments in reading to see if every student in every grade level is growing in reading literacy

Cantrell said her teachers have embraced the reading initiative.

"They have jumped in with both feet," she said. "They love it. We are seeing the benefits of it in reading. Teachers want to do the right thing. They want students to grow. Seeing that, they've really jumped in and wanted to do the best job possible. They are continuing to learn and continuing to put it into practice. We have some excellent instruction going on in the science of reading."

State law requires elementary teachers to be proficient in the science of reading, as well as all special education teachers for K-12. After 7th grade, teachers have to show awareness of RISE but don't have to be assessed by a RISE facilitator.

According to a news release about the 2022 school awards, the Reading Initiative for Student Excellence, RISE Arkansas, fosters a culture of reading by coordinating a statewide reading campaign with community partners, parents, and teachers to establish the importance of reading in communities, homes and schools. The first goal of RISE Arkansas is to "sharpen the focus and strengthen literacy instruction."

RISE training was developed in 2017 to bring evidence-based teaching practices to the classroom. RISE Arkansas recognizes schools that have successfully implemented the RISE literacy practices.

  photo  COURTESY PHOTO Farmington Middle School and Folsom Elementary have been recognized for their excellence in literacy. Staff from the schools include (back row) Kellie Allen, Kim Brugess, Julia Williams, Shannon Cantrell, Carla Meadors, Becky Morrison; (front) Landie Storlie, Breanna Dial, Polly Boynton, Tammie Bullock.

Print Headline: Farmington Schools Receive Reading Honors


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