Making Literacy More Visible and Valued

Laurens County Schools, Georgia
By: | July 8, 2019
District Name: Laurens County Schools
District State: Georgia
District Website:

Challenge: Located in a high-poverty, rural community where nearly two-thirds of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch meant that most kids entering Laurens County Schools were not prepared to be readers.

Initiative: In December 2017, the Laurens County Community Literacy Task Force was formed to address literacy needs. Through partnerships and a grant from the Georgia Department of Education, task force members launched Read with Me challenges on Facebook and Raising a Reader workshops at a local library, created six community lending libraries, added book bins in pediatric office exam rooms, and distributed books and phonics games to more than 500 homes. Local newborns also receive a book and newsletter each month until they enter school.

Impact: “Parents of school-age children learn just how easy and inexpensive it is to raise a reader,” says Ronda Hightower, associate superintendent. Ensuring that students read on grade level by the end of third grade is now a community commitment.

Advice: Do a number of small things rather than looking for a silver bullet or one-shot initiative, says Hightower. Keeping efforts small and practical makes the initiative easily replicated no matter the community’s size or resources.