State Hires Marietta Literacy Coach to Lead Statewide Initiative

Dave Williams

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

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State School Superintendent Richard Woods has appointed a literacy coaching expert in the Marietta city school system to develop and lead a statewide literacy coaching model in Georgia.

As structured literacy coaching coordinator, J. Nicholas Philmon will retain his position with the Marietta district while contracting with the state agency to build the capacity of schools and districts to deliver proven, nationally recognized training in structured literacy and the science of reading.

“Developing a tiered, statewide coaching model – with buy-in from local districts and schools and a common, proven framework – is key to the continued success of Georgia’s early literacy initiatives,” Woods said Wednesday.

“Marietta City Schools has been a leader in the shift to structured literacy and the science of reading, and I’m thrilled we’ll have Dr. Philmon on board to support our statewide efforts to ensure all students learn to read – and read to learn.”

In his new role, Philmon will work with a design team of experts to create a detailed coaching plan, direct the hiring process for regional literacy support coaches, and provide training to regional coaches and educators throughout the state.

His work will complement and directly support the state Department of Education’s partnership with the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy to provide literacy courses for K-5 teachers and leaders.

The state has made a major commitment to improving literacy in Georgia in the last couple of years. The General Assembly passed two bills last year introducing two related approaches to literacy instruction: “the science of reading” and “structured literacy.”  

The science of reading bundles together instruction on phonics with reading comprehension and vocabulary. “Structured literacy,” as defined by one of the new laws, refers to an “evidence-based approach to teaching oral and written language … characterized by explicit, systematic, cumulative, and diagnostic instruction.” 

Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed fiscal 2025 state budget contains $11.3 million for literacy initiatives, including funds for the regional literacy coaches and screeners for K-3 students.

Philmon holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Mercer University, where his research focused on teacher coaching.