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Lenoir-Rhyne University education major Hannah Caldwell works with a student at Southwest Primary 

HICKORY — The National Council on Teacher Quality has released its findings on the quality of preparation that teacher education programs provide to elementary teacher candidates in how to teach children to read. Lenoir-Rhyne University is one of only 15 schools out of 1,000 nationwide, and the only one in North Carolina, to receive an A-plus rating for its ability to produce highly qualified teachers of reading.

NCTQ is a nonpartisan research and policy organization that conducts research to assist states, districts and programs with teacher quality issues.

As a top-performing program, Lenoir-Rhyne’s curriculum provides the following for each of the five essential components of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension):

» Explicit instruction on each of the five components of reading instruction.

» Support for instruction with high-quality textbooks that accurately detail established principles of scientifically based reading practices.

» Opportunities for teacher candidates to demonstrate mastery through in-class assignments, tests and instructional practice.

“We’re thrilled that we received an A-plus ranking, and we’re excited that people are starting to put more emphasis on teaching educators about the science of reading instruction,” said Dr. Monica Campbell.

A professor of education and chair of the School of Education at LR, Campbell oversees the LR Literacy Center housed at Southwest Primary School in Hickory, where teacher candidates complete their reading-foundations coursework and fulfill their lab requirements by tutoring striving readers.

“The foundations of reading courses and labs are taught from a practitioner or applied approach,” Campbell explained. “LR students learn the importance of using explicit, systematic and multimodal instruction to teach the big ideas in reading, which are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. I provide direct instruction to the teacher candidates, who then immediately apply this knowledge during tutoring sessions, while I coach and offer feedback.”

Southwest Primary provided Campbell and her students with classroom space last year, while the LR Literacy Center was being developed; however, it uses a tutoring model they’ve been using for the past three years.

“Our ultimate goal is to serve striving readers in the community by offering free after-school tutoring and summer experiences,” Campbell said.

In order to continue this great work, LR depends on the recruitment of highly qualified students for their teacher education programs. One avenue for this recruitment is the LR Teaching Scholars program.

According to Dr. Hank Weddington, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, the Teaching Scholars Program provides scholarships and experiential opportunities for students showing both academic excellence and a sincere desire to become teacher leaders. Scholars participate in ongoing professional development, clinical experiences and service opportunities throughout their college careers. These incentives help LR to build a pipeline of talented teachers for our local school districts.

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