GLR-Newsletter S..

What’s Happening 

Dear Grade Level Reading Coalition:

The new school year has arrived! And we are so excited for what SY18-19 will bring as we all work together to improve reading outcomes for students in Baltimore City. This summer we spent time exploring new summer reading initiatives and reflecting on how best to continue our efforts.

In this newsletter, you will learn about what we have been up to this summer and how we are ushering in the new school year. Please send us any announcements or updates that you would like us to share—we are happy to spread the word and post on social media.

Please stay tuned for our next upcoming Grade Level Reading Coalition Meeting. We will be sending an invite out very soon. I look forward to sharing where GLR is headed and seeing you all there.

In Partnership,

Angelique Jessup
Program Director
Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading

Staffing Update

Welcome Ruth! At the end of August, we welcomed our new Program Associate, Ruth Farfel to the Grade Level Reading team! We are so pleased to have her on board. She is a Baltimore native, attended Baltimore City Public Schools, and just graduated with her masters from the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work. She is very dedicated to improving education in Baltimore and is so excited to be working with the entire Grade Level Reading Coalition! You can contact her at or 410-864-0410.

Thank you BELL, Port Discovery, and the Pratt
Library for your partnership this summer  

Grade Level Reading was happy to partner with BELL, Port Discovery, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library this summer to hold summer pop-ups at two elementary BELL sites (Matthew H. Henson and Armistead Gardens). Students in grades K-3 engaged in a STEM activity led by Port Discovery and the Pratt led students in a reading of a corresponding STEM book. Families were provided with information on Port Discovery and Enoch Pratt programs, and library card applications were distributed to families. We look forward to what next summer brings for this partnership.

1st Grade Work Update 

Grade Level Reading continues to partner with Baltimore City Public Schools and Improving Education to provide families with actionable ways to support reading growth at home. Our efforts will again be centered in the six focus schools (Abbottston, Armistead Gardens, Lakeland, Liberty, Matthew H. Henson, and Woodhome). These are some of the initiatives that we will be working on throughout the school year:

  • Connection to Enoch Pratt.  We will be coordinating more Enoch Pratt Library visits to 1st grade classrooms in our focus schools as well as field trips to the Pratt. During these interactions, students will learn about fun things they can do at the library to increase the use of the library’s resources and programs.For this year, we plan to have 2-3 visits from Pratt librarians to each of the schools (last year they were visited once) and at least one field trip to the Pratt Library.
  • Literacy Milestones Materials. Grade Level Reading will use the information gained from last year’s focus groups to create tools and resources to be distributed this school year. These materials will provide families with information about their children’s literacy development in school and how they can best support that growth outside of the classroom. We are working with teachers at the focus schools to develop this content based on their experiences and what we learned from families. School leaders and teachers will help us share drafts of this material including both print and videos.

Coalition Updates

  • We are happy to share that PARCC scores for the 2017-18 school year saw significant gains! According to MSDE,68 City Schools saw increases in English language arts, and math, up from 53 schools last year. Please see the press release for more details.
  • Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Read to Reef Program is continuing this year, which gives K-5th grade students 4 free tickets to the Aquarium for reading 5 aquatic books. More information can be found here.
  • Grade Level Reading is happy to share the release of our Family Literacy Toolkit. Working in partnership with City Schools Office of Engagement and Office of Teaching and Learning, these easy-to-use toolkits help schools across Baltimore host their own Family Literacy Nights. These literacy nights provide opportunities for families of Pre-K-2nd graders to learn about at-home literacy activities such as writing practice, letter sounds, and places to find free books. We piloted it at two schools and you can see the video of the night here.  Activities are aligned to the City Schools Curriculum and the Blueprint for Success and Family & Community Engagement. Additionally, Title I funds are able to be used for this event. Help us spread the word throughout your networks.
  • City Schools recently received a Striving Readers Grant for $2.8 million over three years. Through this grant, the district will implement a birth to grade 12 literacy strategy focusing on the City Schools Blueprint goals of increasing the percentage of students scoring proficient on ELA PARCC.
  • This is also a great time to sign up with Reading Partners to be a volunteer tutor to help struggling readers throughout the school year. Sign up here.
  • If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Little Free Library Ambassador volunteer to help stock books for one of our Little Free Libraries, please reach out to Ruth Farfel (
  •  City Schools has launched a new literacy curriculum called Wit & Wisdom for grades K-8. Learn more about the new curriculum and its adoption here.

Please email Ruth Farfel if there is a need or announcement you would like the Coalition to know about at