Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation selects 21 educators across Tennessee to serve as a consulting body to help determine the best resources to combat learning loss in students
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) announces its inaugural Educator
Advisory Council to serve as a consulting body to help determine the best resources to best meet the needs of students across Tennessee.
Twenty-one Tennessee educators were selected from 115 applicants to serve on the Educator Advisory Council, representing 20 school districts in all three regions of the state. With less than one third of Tennessee third graders able to read proficiently, GELF aims to utilize the Council’s combined 290 years of experience to meet students and families where they are with the tools they need to strengthen early literacy and combat learning loss.
“Educators play the biggest part of our future generation’s story,” said James Pond, president of GELF.
“Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation is honored to recognize their role, learn from their experience, and hear from their perspective to gain a better understanding of what our students need to become successful readers and future leaders. Together, we will work together to combat learning loss and strengthen early literacy.”
The primary responsibility of the Educator Advisory Council will be to select the books that students and
teachers from across the state will be mailed through GELF’s K-3 Book Delivery program in Summer 2022. Through its K-3 Book Delivery program, GELF collaborates with Scholastic to mail high-quality, age-appropriate books to kindergarten through third grade students and teachers over the summer to combat learning loss and support learning in the home. In Summer 2021, GELF mailed books to 90,000 students and teachers across Tennessee, at no cost to families or school districts.
Less than one third of Tennessee third graders read proficiently. Research shows that two to three months of reading proficiency is lost for students who do not read over the summer, and Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) 2021 scores show that disruptions to education during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a five-percentage point decline in third grade reading proficiency. Research shows that placing books and resources directly into the homes of families helps combat learning loss.
The 2021-2022 Educator Advisory Council represents 15 K-3 teachers, one library media specialist,
and five school district leaders.
“I am joining the Educator Advisory Council because I see the learning loss this program is combating
firsthand and want to share my deep love of reading, not only in my classroom, but with all students across Tennessee,” said Tara Comerford, Educator Advisory Council member and 3rd Grade Teacher at Athens City Schools.
“I am excited to share the joy of literacy with thousands of young Tennesseans,” said Chris Dickerson,
Educator Advisory Council member and Kindergarten teacher at Metro-Nashville Public Schools.“Developing early literacy skills sets learners on a trajectory that will dictate the rest of their lives and I believe that the work of the Council helps lay this necessary foundation.”
See below for a full list of the selected 2021-2022 GELF Educator Advisory Council members.
Stefanie Bishop, Second Grade Teacher, Hardin County
De’Shadrian Campbell, Kindergarten Teacher, Hardeman County
Tammy Clark, First Grade Teacher, Knox County
Tara Comerford, Third Grade Teacher, Athens City
Tony Dalton, PreK-1st Instructional Coach, Hamblen County
Lauren Dean, First Grade Teacher, Robertson County
Chris Dickerson, Kindergarten Teacher, Metro Nashville Public Schools
Lauren Effler, PreK-12 Curriculum & Instruction Supervisor, Union County
Lorena Georger, Second Grade Teacher, Newport City School
Xavier Hamler, Elementary Education Supervisor, Bedford County
Taylor Harvey, Librarian, Hamilton County
Molly Jones, First Grade Teacher, Sullivan County
Angie Manor, District Literacy Coordinator, Hickman County
Meredith McMackins, Second Grade Teacher, Dyer County
Shirley McMorris, Early Literacy Advisor, Shelby County
Melody Sadler, First Grade Teacher, Overton County
Melisha Simmons, First Grade Teacher, Warren County
Sarah Stephenson, Kindergarten Teacher, Cheatham County
Alexis Wade, First Grade Teacher, Shelby County
Alexandra Whited, Third Grade Teacher, Hawkins County
Christie Wimberley, Second Grade Teacher, Henry County
For more information on GELF and the Educator Advisory Council, visit governorsfoundation.org.
About GELF Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) equips Tennessee’s children with books and innovative literacy tools that encourage lifelong learning for a brighter future. GELF is a nonpartisan 501c3 driven by a mission to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee by acting as a thought leader, advisor, and catalyst for programs across the state. These programs include Birth-5 Book Delivery through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, K-3 Book Delivery, Caregiver Engagement, Book Buses, and Storybook Trails. GELF was founded in 2004 by former Gov. Phil Bredesen as a public-private partnership to sustain Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee. GELF has grown from solely a book-gifting program to an early literacy organization driven by a vision where all Tennessee children have access to the resources, guidance, and support they need to become lifelong learners.
For more information, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org or www.facebook.com/GovEarlyLiteracyTN, or call toll-free at (877) 99-BOOKS.