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Fennville Elementary Receives Support for Literacy Focus

FENNVILLE—Things went from good to great recently at Fennville Elementary School when it was announced the High Impact Leadership (HIL) literacy project received full funding for the 2018-19 school year through partnerships between the district, the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency, the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, and a major financial commitment from Perrigo.

Fennville Elementary School will receive $36,182 in funding this school year to fully fund initiatives identified in the HIL project, including increased classroom resources for students and teachers, plus teacher training, and expanded partnerships with programs such as Book Trust, providing personal books for every student in the elementary school.

The HIL project is a three-year program of the Reading Now Network and Western Michigan University, and Fennville was one of more than seventy schools in West Michigan invited to join Cohort A of the program in the Fall of 2017. The work of the HIL project last year was to identify and begin to implement high impact strategies to improve reading and literacy at the elementary level, and Fennville Elementary School identified strategies to be implemented over several years. This funding announcement means the school will be able to begin implementation of its initiatives right away.

Fennville officials are grateful for the support, which Fennville Superintendent Jim Greydanus says will have an immediate impact on every student in the elementary school.

“This funding opportunity will allow us to fully and immediately improve our focus on high impact literacy strategies, and we are grateful for the opportunity,” Greydanus said. “But more than that, we’re grateful to be able to extend the strategies to every teacher and every student in our elementary. This really expands the immediate reach of our HIL project strategies.”

The funding for the program was made available through a regional partnership, and officials at the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency worked and Ottawa Area Intermediate School District worked with Talent 2025 and the Holland/Zeeland Model Community Initiative to promote the program and secure funds. AAESA Superintendent Bill Brown called the support a model for the kind of regional collaboration that can truly impact schools.

“This is a perfect example of how we can work with our partners in business, industry, and economic development that helps meet the needs of schools, employers, and communities,” Brown said. “The HIL project and the Reading Now Network is not about competition between schools for small gains. Instead, we’re interested in leveling the playing field for all students in our region, and it takes this kind of collaboration to make that happen.”

Fennville Elementary Principal Albert Lombard called the full funding a real blessing for his school.

“The HIL project has given us a laser focus on what we need to do to help kids read,” Lombard said. “This funding will help us get the resources right away that aren’t always available when state funds are limited. We’re going to be able to put in place the supports we know will benefit students rather than working over a longer period of time to put them in place. We are grateful for the support.”

Corey Harbaugh