Central Heights has been selected for a grant-funded project that will help advance reading and writing skills for students in all grade levels.

Central Heights is one of nine school districts that will benefit from a $3.2 million grant from the Literacy Network of Kansas (LINK). The program is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Striving Reader’s Comprehensive Literacy Program. The districts worked with Greenbush, the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center to develop the grant proposal.

“The purpose of this project is really to invest in local teachers — to give them the opportunity to hone their skills even further,” Monica Murnan, project director with Greenbush, said. “One way we can do that is to ensure teachers have an instructional coach they can count on to give them feedback, show them something new, or help them work through a challenge.”

Central Heights superintendent Brian Spencer said the district was excited to be chosen for the program but development is still in the early stages.

“Exactly how it will take shape and look at this point, we don’t really know yet,” he said.

As part of the program, districts with an enrollment of more than 5,000 could apply by themselves so smaller districts formed a consortium to apply. Central Heights joined Woodson, Southeast, Riverton, Hiawatha, South Brown County/Horton, Cherryvale and Neodesha to apply.

Ann Collins, principal of Central Heights Elementary, worked with a team to develop the proposal and did a needs assessment before writing a literacy plan for the district. After developing the plan, Collins said her team had decided to implement that plan even if they were not selected for the grant.

“We are very, very excited for what this can do for kids and our staff,” Collins said. “Our needs coincided with the other school districts. We have three goals, comprehension, writing and the third one is to implement reading strategies within the classroom.”

Collins said Greenbush will start offering training this summer and parts of the plan should begin to take shape during this upcoming school year.