Mount Carmel's Whited named to GELF advisory council

Hawkins County’s Alexandra Whited is one of two local teachers who have been named to the inaugural Educator Advisory Council.

Third-grade teacher Alexandra Whited from Mount Carmel Elementary School has been named to the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation’s inaugural Educator Advisory Council, which will serve as a consulting body to help determine the best resources to meet the needs of students across Tennessee.

Twenty-one Tennessee educators were selected from 115 applicants to serve on the council, representing 20 school districts in all three regions of the state. Locally, Molly Jones, a first-grade teacher in Sullivan County, was also selected to serve on the council.

With less than a third of Tennessee third graders able to read proficiently, GELF aims to utilize the council’s combined 290 years of experience to meet students and families where they are with the tools they need to strengthen early literacy and combat learning loss.

“Educators play the biggest part of our future generation’s story,” said James Pond, president of GELF. “Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation is honored to recognize their role, learn from their experience and hear from their perspective to gain a better understanding of what our students need to become successful readers and future leaders. Together, we will work together to combat learning loss and strengthen early literacy.”

The primary responsibility of the Educator Advisory Council will be to select the books that students and teachers from across the state will be mailed through GELF’s K-3 Book Delivery program in summer 2022. Through its K-3 Book Delivery program, GELF collaborates with Scholastic to mail high-quality, age-appropriate books to kindergarten through third-grade students and teachers over the summer to combat learning loss and support learning in the home. In summer 2021, GELF mailed books to 90,000 students and teachers across Tennessee, at no cost to families or school districts.

Research shows that two to three months of reading proficiency is lost for students who do not read over the summer, and Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program 2021 scores show that disruptions to education during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a 5 percentage point decline in third-grade reading proficiency. Research shows that placing books and resources directly into the homes of families helps combat learning loss.

The 2021-2022 Educator Advisory Council represents 15 K-3 teachers, one library media specialist and five school district leaders.

GELF equips Tennessee’s children with books and innovative literacy tools that encourage lifelong learning for a brighter future. It’s a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) driven by a mission to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee by acting as a thought leader, adviser and catalyst for programs across the state. The programs include birth-5 book delivery through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, K-3 Book Delivery, Caregiver Engagement, Book Buses and Storybook Trails.

GELF was founded in 2004 by former Gov. Phil Bredesen as a public-private partnership to sustain Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee.

GELF has grown from solely a book-gifting program to an early literacy organization driven by a vision where all Tennessee children have access to the resources, guidance and support they need to become lifelong learners.

Visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org or call 877-99-BOOKS.

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