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Kim Myers speaks on importance of locals making impact on reading

Kim Myers, Executive Director of Get Troup Reading, spoke at Tuesday’s LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce Early Bird Breakfast about the importance of reading and how businesses can make an impact on reading in the community.

The breakfast was held at Sweetland Amphitheatre to encourage social distancing.
Myers was hired in the midst of the pandemic but hit the ground rolling with plans and initiatives to get students back on track with reading after COVID-19.

“Get Troup Reading is an initiative to promote collaboration of all community stakeholders who work to improve childhood literacy in Troup County,” Myers said. “Get Troup Reading is a partner of Get Georgia Reading, which was conceived by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2013 to support the national grade level reading campaign to have all students in our country reading on grade level by third grade. Third grade is important because it’s when children make the shift from learning to read to reading to learn.”

According to the Get Georgia Reading website, children who cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to experience poor health, have discipline problems and become teen parents. They also are four times more likely to drop out of high school when compared to proficient readers.

“It takes all of us working together to meet the needs of our children. School attendance, the number of children living in poverty, premature birth rates, child center climate, early language exposure and childcare teacher qualifications are just some of the factors that affect a child’s ability to read,” Meyers said. “Research shows when children receive quality childcare and can participate in innovative, pre-paid programs, they enter kindergarten much more prepared to be successful. Get Troup Reading uses the national grade level initiative four pillar frameworks for our model of success.”

The four pillars include language nutrition, access, positive learning climate and teacher preparation and effectiveness.

Myers said each pillar has a committee that oversees the success of implementing that framework into children’s lives.

“Each of these committees has developed goals and strategies over the next year,” Myers said. “The Healthy Babies and Toddler Committee is chaired by Patty Youngblood of the United Way. The desired outcome of this committee is to make sure all babies and toddlers in Troup County are healthy and developmentally ready for school to reach this goal. The committee is assisting childcare centers, and programs with funds or materials to reopen after the COVID-19 crisis. I am happy to report that this goal is already in the works with applications going out to local childcare centers, requesting support to keep them up and running during these difficult times.”

Myers announced that by the end of August the Healthy Babies and Toddler Committee is awarding qualified centers with funds to keep their doors open. This committee is also currently working with centers to earn their quality rate and certification.

“The school readiness committee is the second committee, and it’s chaired by Kathy Tilley of the Troup County Strategic Planning Committee,” Myers said. “The desired outcome of this committee is to help prepare four and five year olds for kindergarten to first grade. This committee charges itself with promoting certified pre-k programs in the community.”

The committee offers five hours of certified professional trainings, focusing on early childhood education for local childcare centers and provides developmental screenings prior to kindergarten for childcare centers that might not receive them.

“I am proud to report that because of a recent stabilization grant from the Callaway Foundation, plans are already in the works for two staff development days to be conducted for local childcare workers to earn five hours of creditable training at no cost to them,” Myers said.

The final committee, Success of the Schools, chaired by Nicole Kennedy, works directly with the school system to give access to children and their families to educational recourses.

“One goal of this committee is to match families with mentors for attendance support,” Myers said. “I am fortunate for the countless hours and dedication of service by the leadership team of Get Troup Reading. Kathy Tilley, Nicole Kennedy, Patty Youngblood and Mandy Hill saw an opportunity three years ago to bring Get Georgia Reading to a local level.”

For more information about Get Troup Reading or how to get involved, email info@gettroupreading.org.