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Will Russell, 601-792-2738,

Karey Alegria, 601-792-4267 Ext. 2408,

Brittany Sullivan, 212-343-4848,


Jefferson Davis County School District Receives $2 Million Grant from the

U.S. Department of Education


Initiatives Funded by the Grant will Aim to Increase Students’ Literacy Skills, Enhance Teacher Efficacy, and Engage Families and the Community


Prentiss, MS — February 4, 2019 — Jefferson Davis County School District (JDCSD) has been awarded an approximately $2.2 million Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Academic Improvement. This grant, awarded to only 40 school districts nationwide in 2018, supports innovative literacy instruction that promotes skill development in children from birth through grade 12 from low-income communities. These new funds enable JDCSD to prioritize early literacy, boost students’ literacy skills, provide access to a wide range of resources, engage families and the community in student learning, improve teacher efficacy, expand after school and summer school programs, and integrate literacy as a top priority across content areas.


Will Russell, Superintendent of Education, said, “If there is ever a magical solution in education, then it would be literacy. The Innovative Approaches to Literacy Grant is very competitive, and we as a district consider it to be a blessing for our communities and students.”


With the IAL Program grant, JDCSD will implement Academic Innovations for Reading Success (AIRS), a strategic and sustainable framework designed to address the identified instructional, academic, resource, and engagement gaps that currently exist in the district. Over the span of three years, JDCSD will work with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company, to improve literacy and support learning through key initiatives including:


  • Comprehensive Literacy Model: The new “I Read Every Day and Discover” (iREAD) model will be implemented district-wide to address the whole child, teacher, and family through classroom resources and professional learning steeped in foundational literacy skills, whole group and small group instruction, independent learning, intervention, and remediation.
  • Professional Learning: Teachers, administrators, and librarians will be provided ongoing, extensive professional development opportunities, which will help them confidently and effectively implement iREAD, engage families, and foster a culture of literacy. Families and community partners will also be invited to attend trainings on the importance of literacy.
  • Access to Resources: Within the district, the book-to-student ratio will increase by 15% in school and classroom libraries, making more culturally relevant titles available to students. To increase access to books outside of school, children and families will be provided free take-home books to keep and add to their home libraries.
  • STEM Integration: JDCSD will incorporate literacy activities related to the subject areas of STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—through the district’s Career and Technology (CTE) department. As part of this effort, with additional funding from the Rural Utilities Service, JDCSD will create a robust STEM library in the CTE building featuring digitized books for students in grades 3–8.
  • Extended Day and Summer Camps: Students in grades K–5 will have the option to participate in LitLeague, an extended day enrichment camp where they will receive individualized small group instruction, and summer reading camps located at campus and public libraries.
  • Family & Community Engagement: Caretakers will be encouraged to frequently read with their young children through district partnerships with local pediatric health facilities, community colleges, public libraries, barbershops, and Head Start and daycare organizations. In addition, they will have an opportunity to attend family reading nights during Scholastic Literacy Events.


“The team is looking forward to partnering with the families, communities, and schools to provide literacy support for the children,” said Karey Alegria, AIRS Project Director. “When we all work together to provide significant literacy experiences for the children, they have a greater opportunity to enter the third grade as proficient readers, which will make it more likely that they will succeed and graduate high school. With this literacy grant, the district will make a remarkable difference in student achievement and in our communities.”


“Jefferson Davis County School District stands out as a model district for their dedication and innovation around literacy,” said Michael Haggen, Chief Academic Officer, Scholastic Education. “It is important that the great work being done in rural districts is acknowledged and this prestigious grant will help ensure other schools throughout the country can follow JDCSD’s lead. Scholastic is proud to partner with JDCSD in building a strong literacy program and bringing their vision to life by providing high-quality resources to the children, families, and teachers in the community.”


To learn more about Jefferson Davis County School District, visit:


For more information about Scholastic, visit the Company’s media room at: