Teaching assistant Mary Scott guides the two struggling first-graders through a reading exercise in which they identify simple words, capital letters and punctuation marks.
On the other side of the classroom, master teacher Alethia Jefferson listens to 11 students take turns reading aloud. Jefferson asks them questions about the story, and the students use their answers to complete a writing assignment.
Scott and Jefferson’s students are in the same class in the same grade, but their achievement levels are vastly different. The first-graders paired with Scott are about a year behind, while those with Jefferson range from a half-year behind to on grade level.
Scott plays a critical role in Jefferson’s classroom, and her presence there is made possible through a new partnership between Charleston County School District and the College of Charleston. The Literacy Intern Project aims to improve kindergarten and first-grade students’ reading skills while staffing high-poverty schools with more minority teachers who have graduate degrees.