By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
From L-R: Shannon Davis, Britt Elementary media specialist; Doris Jones, Britt Elementary principal; Joe Ahrens, GCPS assistant superintendent for elementary schools; Kay Brickley, Britt Elementary literacy specialist; and Melissa Madsen, Britt Elementary assistant principal.

Britt ES selected for International Reading Association’s Exemplary Reading Program Award
By Staff Reports

SNELLVILLE (March 11, 2014) - A Gwinnett County learning community where volunteers join teachers to help students sharpen their reading skills recently impressed members of the Georgia Reading Association (GRA). On a recent visit to Britt Elementary in the South Gwinnett Cluster, GRA members ended their day selecting the school as the recipient of the 2014 International Reading Association Exemplary Reading Program Award.

The recognition is a significant one for the Britt Elementary community as it has been several years since the International Reading Association has presented this honor to a school in Georgia.

“It was obvious to each visiting team member that everyone at Britt Elementary has a heart for reading and is committed to supporting their students,” wrote Genie Adams with the Georgia Reading Association when notifying the school district of the honor. Britt Elementary welcomed the news with enthusiasm. Principal Doris Jones says, “I was thrilled that Britt Elementary School was recognized … This award validates the excellent work done each and every day by the entire Britt Team to help our students achieve excellence in academics. This is a community effort with Britt Literacy Volunteers and Britt’s business partners supporting the Britt Team and Britt students in their efforts to achieve academic excellence.” Britt Literacy Volunteers and business partners are community members who come together and support teachers on their quest for student success as Britt Elementary uses every resource available to help students.

Other contributing factors to Britt’s reading success include:
· The use of student data which continually informs instructional decisions to make children successful.
· A 30 minute sustained silent reading time at the end of each school day called BRITT time (Britt Reading In Total Togetherness)
· The Britt Literacy Volunteers who assist struggling readers in the Britt cafeteria each week
· Britt’s literacy coach facilitates literacy labs on a rotating schedule for all Britt students. Literacy Labs also serve as staff development or model classrooms for all grade level teachers to observe effective literacy instructional strategies as well as effective classroom management techniques
· Every member of the Britt faculty and staff contributes to the success of the Britt reading program. Britt’s cafeteria manager, alias Jake the puppet, is often featured on the Britt morning news to promote books from the media center.
· Reading instruction is integrated into the instruction of all academic subjects at Britt.
· Vocabulary development and reading skills are reinforced in art, music, and health and physical education classes as well.
· A new vocabulary word is introduced each day on morning announcements. 

GRA members visited Britt Elementary and witnessed the Britt Team in full action. One team member said, “The culture and the total school environment simply ‘oozes’ with sound literacy activities every minute of the school day!” Visitor Dr. Sallie Mills commented about the school leadership saying, “This is one of those schools you don’t see often enough. The Principal was great and we know that it takes a good leader to ensure that teachers are teaching and children are learning.” And Ms. Carol Hilburn paid the ultimate compliment by concluding her notes saying, “This is one of those wonderful schools where the entire staff works together for the benefit of the kids. By the time I left, I was ready to come out of retirement and get back into a classroom!”

Sponsored by the International Reading Association, the award recognizes “outstanding reading and language arts programs at all grade levels (elementary, middle, and high). Its purpose is to call the public’s attention to outstanding programs in schools throughout Canada and the United States.”

Britt Elementary was formally recognized by the Georgia Reading Association during an awards program this past Sunday, March 9, in Macon. Representatives from the school also will also be honored at the International Reading Association’s Awards Program in New Orleans on May 9 as a part of the organization’s annual convention.