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Memphis Gains Literacy Institute and Literacy Conference

In a city where only 23% of third grade students are on grade level in ELA (English/Language Arts), and where some schools dip as low as 8% (data from Shelby County Schools), action is required. Literacy leaders across Memphis—from your local library to groups like ARISE2Read—are working diligently to turn these numbers around. Another literacy leader, Memphis Teacher Residency, is changing the literacy landscape in our city with two new important reading resources for educators. A state leader in teacher education, MTR has become a vested partner in Shelby County Schools through their teacher residency program. Check out the graphic below for more information on how teacher residency models can create change, and what MTR has achieved in their 12 years. 

Last week, MTR announced the creation of the Memphis Literacy Institute, founded with a vision to further efforts to build literacy across the MidSouth. David Montague, Executive Director of MTR, says the Institute will do this by developing, understanding, and sharing methods for effectively teaching literacy skills. The Institute will provide strategy and resources committed to teacher training in the science of reading. Montague explained that this will happen through a few initiatives:

“We’re excited to get started immediately with the reading specialist certification, and follow with the Memphis Literacy Conference on July 31st. Because of the diligent work of our instructors, mentors, and teachers, we have proven experience in teacher training. This new emphasis on providing professional development at scale across the city—and specifically in the science of reading—is our next step in doing our part to address the needs of Memphis students.” 

One key to success will be MTR’s deep relationships with Shelby County Schools and Achievement School District leadership. The program has built relationships—and partnerships—with 36 schools in SCS through their time training and placing teachers. SCS Superintendent Joris Ray shared his support for the new Institute:

“Today, one of our city’s most significant needs is the immediate improvement of literacy rates beginning at the earliest of grades. SCS supports the work of the Memphis Literacy Institute, MTR’s new reading initiative. The complexity of reading instruction and the scope of our city’s literacy need demands that there be broad, community-based efforts working together. At the forefront of that effort must be high-quality and research-based literacy training experiences for both early-career and veteran teachers.”

SCS Superintendent, Dr. Joris Ray

The Memphis Literacy Institute will operate from the Memphis Teacher Residency offices and training site at the Crosstown Concourse and will also include their summer camps: MTR Camp which addresses summer learning loss for rising first through fourth graders and STEM Discovery Camp for rising seventh graders.

The Memphis Literacy Conference will take place Saturday, July 31st, from 8am to 2pm at the Crosstown Concourse. Registration is open, and information can be found at The Memphis Literacy Conference will feature literacy expert Dr. Kelly Butler of the Barksdale reading institute. Registration is $50 and includes a full day of in-person learning, a virtual swag bag, a T-shirt, lunch, and more.



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