What is a Literacy Specialist?
Veteran Wildcat Kelsey (Milligan) Cohrt is Whittier’s Literacy Specialist. The primary duties of the Literacy Specialist are to:
• Provide individualized literacy instruction to students, often in groups of 2-5;
• Create goals for each student and share them with families and staff;
• Share literacy resources with families and staff.
A combination of factors is used to determine whether a student is in need of additional literacy support. Staff first reviews school and state assessment data, benchmark information, and teacher recommendations. Previous tutoring needs are also taken into account. Once an initial list of students is created, Mrs. Cohrt administers a full phonics, phonological awareness, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary assessment to confirm the level of support required.
In small literacy groups, students receive extra practice in proven teaching methods — including word sorts, embedding word sort learning (phonics and spelling) into writing, and embedding sort concepts into leveled text — so that students see their learning in books. When appropriate, students also work on reading comprehension skills and often write about their learning.
The Literacy Specialist also:
• Collects and manages literacy data;
• Supports teachers in assessments, literacy instruction, and resources;
• Is a resource to all Whittier families;
• Serves as a Student Intervention Team (SIT) member; and
• Leads Whittier's Literacy Committee.
In the 2015-16 school year, Mrs. Cohrt supported 50+ students, ranging from Kindergarten through 5th grade, to help them reach or advance toward their reading goal(s).
A combination of District and PTA funds in Whittier’s 2016-2017 budget were leveraged to maintain the “0.8" Literacy Specialist position for a second year.
Prior to this, her second year as the Whittier Literacy Specialist, Mrs. Cohrt taught Kindergarten at Whittier for three years and has ten years of teaching experience.
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”
Read all about it in the Literary Gazette, Ms. Cohrt's newsletter.