Members of the Knox County community gathered on Friday for a “Lunch and Learn” discussion at Pellissippi State Community College, a conversation that focused on awareness and advocacy of foundational literacy.
The Lunch and Learn series was initiated by KCS Board of Education Member Betsy Henderson in partnership with Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, the Knox County Education Foundation, and tnAchieves, to focus on current themes in education, both locally and statewide.
“The issues we’re hearing a lot this year are focused on literacy and foundational literacy,” Henderson said. “We wanted to focus on that, especially with Dr. Rysewyk’s priority on foundational skills. That’s one thing that personally, as a mom, is important to me.”
Panelists for Friday’s event included Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, KCS Executive Director for Learning and Literacy Dr. Erin Phillips, and SCORE Chief K-12 Impact Officer Dr. Sharon Roberts.
Phillips addressed the technical side of how students can increase their knowledge to build literacy, saying it’s important for them to master the foundational skills that pave the way for understanding more complex material.
Schwinn emphasized the importance of the group effort that is needed for building literacy, that goes beyond the classroom and into the home.
“Really strong early literacy instruction is so engaging,” Schwinn said. “Part of early literacy, part of teaching is really that partnership between the child and his or her teacher, the partnership of his or her teacher and the parent, and how together, we can crack the code.”
The goal of the event is to be more than just a luncheon where attendees learn from the panelists, but also to challenge community members with specific action items.
“Read as much as you can on this topic,” Roberts said. “Become as knowledgeable as you can on this topic. Read to children. I would encourage us to read on varying topics to build their knowledge.”
The next Lunch and Learn will likely focus on teacher recruitment and retention, and all events are open to the public.