The Citadel’s Zucker Family School of Education creates new Center of Literacy Excellence to support the science of reading

Photo: Members of the ZFSOE’s literacy team met with philanthropists Betsy and Wes Fuller to establish the Center for Literacy Excellence at The Citadel. From left to right: Kaky Grant; Elizabeth Beck, Ph.D.; Britnie Kane, Ph.D.; Evan Ortlieb, Ph.D., Betsy Fuller; Wes Fuller.

The Citadel’s Zucker Family School of Education will launch a new Center of Literacy Excellence focused on supportive measures to ensure all children receive high quality literacy instruction.

This center, made possible through a generous donation from Wes and Betsy Fuller, supports the professional development of pre-school through 12th grade (PK-12) educators to meet the diverse needs of students including English as a Second Language learners and others with exceptionalities.

The Center of Literacy Excellence was created to elevate teacher knowledge on the latest research related to assessment, curriculum, instruction and advocacy. Through their internships and classroom teaching experiences, participants will apply what they learn throughout schools in the Lowcountry to maximize impacts on student achievement.

“Addressing the needs of all students is a cornerstone of our practice in the Zucker Family School of Education. We recognize that literacy challenges can plague us all at various points in our development, so we wanted to take on one of the greatest challenges in education – creating systems of sustainable change in support of educators and their PK-12 students’ literacy achievement and career readiness,” said Evan Ortlieb, Ph.D., dean of the Zucker Family School of Education.

The center includes a dyslexia program designed to help teachers, counselors and school administrators better understand and support learners with dyslexia, regardless of the timeline of their diagnosis, through research-based, specific teacher training.

The program has four key pillars:

  • Awareness: Demystifying what dyslexia is, differentiating dyslexia from other reading difficulties, explaining the eligibility process and discussing early identification and instruction versus intervention.
  • Assessment: Equipping PK-12 educators with the ability to use technology to screen students accurately for dyslexia using an app-based approach and provide instructional recommendations for next steps. Engaging in ongoing research to inform the improvement cycle of this professional development program while benefitting from a scientifically tested electronic platform. Participants will receive training in assessing letter-sound knowledge, word decoding, reading fluency, spelling and reading comprehension across print-based and electronic mediums.
  • Intervention: Participants will learn how to implement effective dyslexia interventions that include a focus on the Science of Reading as well as personalized learning, multisensory approaches, explicit phonics instruction, sequential and structured instruction and continuous feedback including positive reinforcement. An advanced institute is also envisioned to create a professional learning network of dyslexia experts across South Carolina, which would provide ongoing professional development.
  • Advocacy: Participants will gain a rich understanding of and support the rights of students with exceptionalities, related educational policies, other governmental supports available to families, caregivers and students and how to advocate for the needs of students with dyslexia in their school communities.

The ZFSOE believes that engaging in professional development related to important topics in literacy serves as a foundation for teacher excellence, ensuring that all students have the necessary support needed to not only meet grade level expectations but thrive across all content areas.

The Center of Literacy Excellence, under the umbrella of the Anita Zucker Institute of Entrepreneurial Educational Leadership at The Citadel, is an institute founded to address the workforce development needs of educational professionals in the Lowcountry. Much of the professional development coursework will be open access, making it free of charge to anyone interested, including teachers, school counselors, principals and families.

The Zucker Family School of Education is committed to fostering a vibrant learning environment that invests in both cadets, students and educators alike, and their newest center is one of many ways it is achieving that goal.