Embracing Early Literacy with LETRs

At Princeton Public Schools, our mission is to be an innovative leader in instruction, developing in EVERY learner the ability to succeed in an ever-changing world. ‘Every’ is the keyword—not every child has the same path to learning, and an essential part of our mission is to identify the support that each child needs to succeed. 

Success starts with early literacy, a foundational building block for all learning. Research shows that students who meet early literacy goals go on to achieve better grades throughout their academic careers, graduate at higher rates, and even go on to earn more money in future careers and fare better in college programs. 

But it’s more than that. It’s about making sure students are comfortable and able to express themselves. It’s about developing empathetic citizens who can engage in their community; about growing collaborative skills, and creating innovative thinkers. Students can’t do those things when they don’t have the basic building blocks to read or express themselves through writing, or even easily understand what’s being asked of them. 

Historically, the science of reading hasn’t been a part of teacher prep programs. It can be overwhelming for teachers to navigate literacy barriers, especially when their subject isn’t language arts. Princeton is participating in the LETRS program to understand the science of reading and learn how to better support all students. 

LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) is a program that focuses on early literacy and the science behind teaching students to read. The State of Minnesota provides grants for licensed K-5 teachers to participate in the program, and I’m proud to say that many Princeton educators have self-selected to become early adopters of the program. 

LETRS requires a commitment of at least 72 hours of learning and discussion, in addition to using the information to create and use lessons with students. This time commitment is no small ask, we know. But the learning is so important that more than 30 educators and support professionals in Princeton volunteered to kick off the first wave of learning. Next year, the second cohort of educators will participate. 

We don’t practice siloed learning at Princeton—instead, everyone works together to provide the best educational experiences for students. I’m so grateful to work with passionate educators who are dedicated to helping every student. It truly takes an entire community to ensure that our students have the best possible education. 

Representative Sondra Erickson has been a tireless advocate on education policy issues in Minnesota, serving our district residents. We’re profoundly thankful for her advocacy for early literacy and her service to all students. Erickson, a former English teacher at Princeton Public Schools, has announced she won’t seek reelection this November. We’re sorry to see her go, but we’re hopeful that House Minority leader Kurt Daudt, who was recently redistricted into the same House district as Erickson, will share in her advocacy for education. Daudt is an alumnus of Princeton High School (1992) and a former student of Erickson. Princeton has a rich history of community and lawmaker support, and we look forward to working together in the future as we advocate for the success of all students. 

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