As a new school year approaches, Rome City Schools is taking full advantage of this time to embrace and involve teachers in trainings that will prepare them with new strategies and information to help perpetuate positive progression in the classroom. 

Over the summer, Kindergarten through second grade educators participated in a five-day training in the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading and writing instruction, held at the Rome High School College and Career Academy. 

Split into two sessions, one in June and one in July, a total of 84 teachers received the training, led by the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE). 

Director of Elementary Curriculum, Scott Crabbe, explained that Orton-Gillingham is a multisensory and direct instructional approach to teaching basic reading skills that also impacts spelling and writing skills. 

Orton-Gillingham is a research- based, highly structured scientific approach that breaks reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then works to build on those skills over time. The approach has proven effective for all students, and essential for teaching students with dyslexia. 

Crabbe explained that the training, as well as a stipend for the teachers, was made possible through a grant secured by the Director of Federal Programs, Dr. Leslie Dixon. 

“At Rome City, we’ve had a handful of teachers with past certification in the program,” Crabbe said. “This summer, however, we decided to make a concerted effort to have all of our Kindergarten through second grade reading teachers trained, as well as many of our third grade literacy teachers. The summer training sessions were optional, but our teachers were excited for the opportunity to receive the training.”

Courtney Callaway, first grade teacher at Elm Street Elementary, expressed her gratitude for the multi-sensory approach. “This approach reaches the learning styles of all learners which include auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learners,” she said. “The program includes a variety of activities and materials to use in class. Some of their multi sensory activities include writing in sand with sand trays, arm and finger tapping, and red word writing with screens.”

She explained that the program has provided an easy-to-follow and detailed lesson plan for each sound or skill taught.

Engagement and hands-on activity were front and center throughout the training. Callaway said the educators had the opportunity to engage in partner and group work, paired practice, question and answer sessions, responding to learning outcomes, videos, songs, lesson practice, and whole group practice. 

“With a strong emphasis on the basic building blocks of reading skills that our students will learn, we expect to see a significant increase in our students’ ability to read, engage in learning in all areas, and have a positive impact with their academic confidence,” Crabbe said. 

“There is also an online platform available for teachers to assist in lesson planning and presentation of lessons to students,” Callaway said. “I appreciate Rome City for offering this training to our teachers so that we can better meet the needs of our students.” 

As reading and overall literacy skills are essential to student success, both academically and beyond, Crabbe explained that the RCS goal is to have all students reading on grade level by the time they complete third grade. 

“With our dedicated teachers and quality training and curriculum resources, coupled with engaged students and support from families and the Rome community,” Crabbe said, “we will continually strive towards that goal.”