Vera Turner, left, half-time literacy coordinator at Sandrock Elementary School and half-time gifted and talented coordinator for Moffat County School District, and Stephanie Davis, the school’s full-time literacy coordinator, look through reading materials Friday morning at Sandrock. This year, all elementary schools in the district have full-time literacy coordinators.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Vera Turner, left, half-time literacy coordinator at Sandrock Elementary School and half-time gifted and talented coordinator for Moffat County School District, and Stephanie Davis, the school’s full-time literacy coordinator, look through reading materials Friday morning at Sandrock. This year, all elementary schools in the district have full-time literacy coordinators.

Moffat County School District opts to put full-time literacy coordinators in Craig elementary schools

You may not recall learning about phonics or phonemic awareness, but if you can read this, you probably use those skills every day without thinking about it.

“Many of us don’t remember learning how to read,” said Vera Turner, a half-time literacy coordinator at Sandrock Elementary School. “We just read.”

But what if you have a child for whom reading doesn’t come easily?

That’s where literacy coordinators like Turner and Stephanie Davis, Sandrock’s full-time literacy coordinator, come into the picture.

This year, Moffat County School District has full-time staff members like Davis at all four Craig elementary schools.

In the past, Sandrock and Ridgeview elementary schools had full-time coordinators, but East and Sunset did not. In the latter two schools, paraprofessionals and licensed staff helped take on the coordinator’s responsibilities.

The decision to hire full-time coordinators was a collaborative one that included school principals, Superintendent Joe Petrone said. He added that the coordinator position is important because it serves as a single point of contact for teachers throughout a school.

It’s been about four years since Craig’s four elementary schools each had a full-time staff member for reading interventions, said Shannon Samuelson, who fills that position at Ridgeview and Maybell elementary schools.

And, in her view, having full-time positions at each elementary will make a difference for the better.

“I think just having a consistent person in each building will help in lots of respects,” she said. “There are so many things that we do and … this is a job and a half at times during the year.”

From Samuelson’s experience, the position’s responsibilities are constantly shifting.

“My job responsibilities change year to year. They change month to month,” she said. “Really, we wear very many hats.”

In essence, though, a literacy coordinator works with students who have trouble reading, including the ones who are reading below grade level and have individual literacy plans, Samuelson said.

They also can work with students who don’t have difficulty with literacy, Turner and Davis said.

A variety of factors can come into play with struggling readers, including cognitive issues and environmental factors, she said.

“We have some kids that move a lot and they ... have a deficit, or they miss school or they’re tardy a lot,” Samuelson said.

And, if reading problems go uncorrected, she said, it can have “lifelong effects.”

They also can have an impact on students’ performance in other classes.

“Literacy is a foundational skill that crosses into all the other subjects,” Turner said.

And, although students who have trouble reading can still learn in other subjects, it can be “just painstaking,” Davis said.

That is why literacy is important, particularly in the elementary school years, the coordinators said.

“Literacy is something that you use for the rest of your life,” Samuelson said. “We need to build a good foundation at the elementary level so that they can continue to build those literacy skills and be the best person that they can be.”

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