Prioritizing Educators’ Professional Development with LETRS Grant


Instruction and learning look different from classroom to classroom and age group to age group. That’s why at WBSD we focus on a whole-child approach that supports student growth from Pre-K to post-graduation.

When it comes to early childhood instruction, our teachers focus many of their lessons on language development, specifically reading and spelling. Literacy is a fundamental skill and has the power to determine success throughout a child’s educational experience.

According to Lexia Learning, children between one and seven years of age are most receptive to the acquisition of language. It’s a pivotal time for growth and development, especially because data shows literacy impacts access to education, economic prosperity and opportunity.

Despite the importance of literacy and its impact on a child’s success, only half of college education programs effectively prepare teachers-to-be for literacy instruction. The Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) program, a 60-hour professional development course for early childhood educators and reading interventionists, is designed to address this gap as well as deepen the knowledge of experienced teachers.

As part of Public Act 48 of 2021, the Michigan Department of Education received $4 million to launch the LETRS program to train pre-K-3 educators with evidence-based practices for reading instruction so that they may better support the children they serve. The course provides professional instruction on the science of reading at no cost to educators. Six WBSD teachers are currently enrolled in the LETRS program.

“The education profession is always evolving with new research, ideas, concepts and strategies,” said WBSD Literacy Coach Kathy Gray. “The WBSD teachers who applied and received the opportunity to participate in the LETRS program will now have even more tools available to aid their instruction.”

The program teaches the skills needed to master the fundamentals of reading instruction and equips teachers to increase student reading proficiency. Research shows that only 35% of students are reading proficiently, but 95% of students can learn to read. The LETRS philosophy blends the science of reading and the empowerment of teachers.

“Whenever our teachers have the opportunity to enhance the skills they bring to their classrooms, we encourage them to take the time to learn,” said WBSD Superintendent Mark Greathead. “These opportunities benefit our students now and in the future. We’re passionate about inspiring a relentless commitment to lifelong learning in both our educators and students.”