Pat Gordon’s passion for developing literacy initiatives that improve student achievement burns as intensely as it did when she first began working with the Ohio State University in Columbus more than 20 years ago.
An elementary teacher in Mansfield City Schools for nearly 30 years before retiring two years ago, Gordon was the first district teacher to complete training through OSU’s Literacy Collaborative. The program is a nationally recognized, research-based instructional method for teaching reading and writing. Since then, other district teachers have joined Gordon as certified literacy coaches after completing the year-long training required by OSU.
“I know Literacy Collaborative works. I have seen how effective it can be in the classroom,” said Gordon, who led a meeting of literacy coaches Wednesday morning at the Raemelton administration building. “These meetings are part of the continuous learning process, to share ideas, review our practices and deepen our understanding, all of which is directed toward student achievement,” she said.
In August the board of education approved Superintendent Brian Garverick’s recommendation that Gordon be hired as district coach mentor to plan and implement professional development for literacy and math coaches. She will work a maximum of 80 days during the school year and be paid through grant funding.
Teacher Teresa Fruth of Prospect Elementary, also a literacy coach, said meetings such as Wednesday’s are important. “The literacy coaches here represent every level, kindergarten through eighth grade,” Fruth said. “We’re all working toward a common goal which ultimately is to continue to improve student achievement. Every literacy coach here impacts eight to 12 other teachers in their buildings who, in turn, impact students in their classrooms.”
Other teacher/literacy coaches at the meeting included Amy Walker, Holly Christie, Tonya Bishop, Jill Dansen and Debbie Mayo. Also participating were Mindy Newman and Windy Wilging, who are in training to become literacy coaches, and former coach Bonnie Trease. The schedules of literacy coaches are structured so that they are classroom teachers part of the day and available to coach their peers the reminder.
Gordon recalled her introduction to the Literacy Collaborative. “In the early 1990s Joyce Adair (then district curriculum coordinator) came to me and said, ‘Do you want to do this?’ I didn’t know anything about it but I said, ‘Sure.’ I was the first in the district to complete Literacy Collaborative training,” she said.
She quickly became the district trainer for others. “In 1994 we were one of only 19 training centers in the entire country,” she said.
Literacy Collaborative strategies influenced Gordon both professionally and personally. “I tell everybody that I never learned how to read for pleasure until I was 48,” she said. “Having experienced that myself, I know what Literacy Collaborative can do for kids.”