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Wolfpack WORKS Meetings Help Prepare Administrators for Second Year

Dr. Ann Harrington speaks during a series of Wolfpack WORKS meetings in June 2019

The NC State College of Education’s Wolfpack WORKS initiative, in collaboration with the NC Department of Public Instruction, is expanding as it enters its second year of providing literacy-specific induction support to K-2 teachers in 16 high-need school districts in North Carolina.

Ann Harrington, Ph.D., teaching associate professor of reading education and co-principal investigator on the Wolfpack WORKS project, said one of the goals for Wolfpack WORKS in its second year is to begin looking at early literacy approaches from not just the classroom level, but the district level as well.

A series of meetings will be held in the last week of June for district leaders, including superintendents and assistant superintendents, as well as for building-level administrators, including principals, assistant principals, and school-based coaches and interventionists.

Content meetings last year focused on providing support for beginning teachers, Harrington said. This year, she and principal investigator Jill Grifenhagen, Ph.D., assistant professor of literacy education, aim to help administrators better understand the early literacy practices being implemented by teachers.

“Not all principals have experience in an elementary school classroom or a full understanding of what’s involved in teaching elementary literacy,” Harrington said. “If we are all building upon some common understandings about early literacy instruction, it will just provide more support for those teachers and the children they serve.”

Wolfpack WORKS began in summer 2018 with an initial one-year, $5,894,541 grant from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. A three-year, $12,266,816 grant awarded by DPI in March is enabling Wolfpack WORKS to expand in its second year to support all third-year K-2 teachers in partner school districts, in addition to the first- and second-year teachers supported by the initial grant.

“The real benefit is that we will be able to stay with a number of our teachers to build their emerging expertise in early literacy instruction,” Harrington said of the expansion.

The Wolfpack WORKS project team has worked with DPI colleagues and literacy research and teacher education experts to develop 10 evidence-based literacy practices that guided the development of Wolfpack WORKS. The program incorporates blended professional development, literacy-specific coaching and resources that beginning K-2 teachers need to implement effective literacy instruction in their classrooms.

Wolfpack WORKS employs 20 literacy coaches who work weekly with the beginning teachers either in-person or via web-based tools. Wolfpack WORKS also provides focused professional development workshops delivered both online and face-to-face, and reading interventionists help the beginning teachers manage reading assessments and implement reading interventions in classrooms.

Harrington said the upcoming meetings will give representatives from all 16 participating districts (Anson, Bertie, Caswell, Duplin, Edgecombe, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Kannapolis City, Martin, Nash-Rocky Mount, Northampton, Vance, Warren, Washington, Wilson schools) an opportunity to both reflect on the successes of Wolfpack WORKS in its first year and identify areas they would like to improve upon during the upcoming school year.

Paola Sztajn, Ph.D., associate dean for research and innovation, is also a co-PI on the Wolfpack WORKS project.