UNC School of Education doctoral students are giving back to hundreds of younger students in rural communities — without ever leaving Chapel Hill.
Many students are serving as literacy coaches to partner with rural elementary teachers to help struggling students learn to read using webcams. Researchers and officials with the program, called Targeted Reading Intervention, said it has been both effective and saved the schools money.
The program targets teachers of students in kindergarten through second grade and has been implemented in Hertford, Wayne and Warren counties over the past three years. The teachers involved in the program received a laptop with a webcam, said Lynne Vernon-Feagans, a professor in the School of Education.
Vernon-Feagans said the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education gave the program a $3.5 million grant to conduct a randomized control trial in North Carolina.
Once a week, a teacher connects with a UNC literacy coach in a 20- to 30-minute session in which the coach will observe the teacher instructing a student. The coach, who is usually a doctoral student from the School of Education, then gives feedback to the teacher about his or her methods and gives constructive criticism, Vernon-Feagans said.