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Elected officials and local leaders visit school to see literacy curriculum in action

On April 13, members of the Orange County Schools Board of Education, along with some local elected officials, and the Orange County Schools Superintendent’s Cabinet team, came together in a convening at Central Elementary School for the official revealing of the OCS five-year strategic plan.

Leaders were greeted by students of Central Elementary School. Central Elementary School Principal Kandis Sauls welcomed all those in attendance. Each guest received a copy of the new publication, which serves as a one-stop shop for information about the established belief statements, measurable goals, strategies, and values, which will guide the next five years of instruction, decisions, operations, and service to students and families in OCS.

An overview of the Five-Year Strategic Plan publication by OCS Superintendent Dr. Monique Felder, was given after opening remarks by OCS School Board Chair Carrie Doyle. Guests were then presented with a detailed update on the district’s commitment to a laser-like focus on building solid foundations of literacy skills and fostering a love of reading for every student. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Dawson shared how Goal 1 of the strategic plan involves intense improvements to approaching literacy to ensure that students at every grade can confidently read at or above grade level.

Classroom teachers and students welcomed the invited guests inside, where they witnessed key curriculum programs like Heggerty, Letterland, Read Alouds, and Hillrap in action. The visits were facilitated by Ambra Wilson, Executive Director of Literacy, Mariah Morris, K-12 Director of Literacy, and Deidre Lee, the literacy coach for Central Elementary School.

This event was an opportunity for OCS to shine a light on all the ways the district is making significant investments in literacy, especially in Pre-K through grade 5, to improve the educational experience for all students–a crucial skill for success, which starts with our youngest learners.

Students at CES with local leaders

For more photos from the event: 

Here are some key features of the reading intervention methods currently being used in OCS:

Heggerty: Grades PreK-2

Heggerty curriculum provides strong phonemic awareness instruction that is explicit, systematic, sequential, and cumulative. The Heggerty curriculum provides daily instruction for students to build strong foundational phonemic awareness skills. The daily lessons are designed to be quick, 10-12 minute interactive lessons that provide students with the practice and repetition needed to reach phoneme proficiency. The Heggerty curriculum has been implemented across all elementary schools in Orange County Schools beginning in August 2021.

Letterland: Grades PreK-2

Letterland is the phonics curriculum that is implemented across Orange County Schools. It’s direct, explicit and systematic instruction helps students learn to read faster by increasing their accuracy in decoding and their word recognition skills:

Read Alouds: Grades PreK-5

Read alouds are an important way to build background knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension skills for students who have a variety of independent reading abilities. During a read aloud, the teacher reads a selected text and targets key comprehension skills and strategies that help students build their ability to read and understand grade level appropriate texts. Additionally, teachers are able to target background knowledge and vocabulary acquisition during read alouds that support students’ future ability to comprehend unknown texts. Read alouds also help build students’ enjoyment of reading to help develop lifelong readers.

Hillrap: Reading Intervention Program

Hillrap is a reading intervention program for students who are below grade level in reading and need intensive support in key foundational skills. The Hillrap intervention is taught by a Hillrap certified instructor who has completed training from the Hill Center. Hillrap interventions are done in groups of five students or fewer. Hillrap groups meet 4-5 times per week from approximately 45-60 minutes each session. 

For more information about the OCS approach to improving literacy, send an email to