Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Columbia Heights is partnering with Groves Academy to increase students’ literary skills, enhance education and increase enrollment. 

Immaculate Conception is one of 20 schools chosen by Catholic Schools Center of Excellence to participate in the program called “Believe and Read.”

Believe and Read is a three-year program that starts in kindergarten and goes through second grade. Through this program, Immaculate Conception will have classroom coaching, monthly team meetings and other support to help students with reading and spelling.

“The goal is to make sure every student is at or above grade-level reading,” Lisa Shepherd, Center of Excellence director of marketing and communications, said.

The program uses a phonics-based approach to help children learn to read and spell, Shepherd said. The skills learned in Believe and Read are meant to help students learn in the rest of their classes as well.

Believe and Read is a “train the trainer model,” according to Shepherd, which means coaches will come in weekly to train the teachers on the program. The Center of Excellence provides the funding for training and coaches for the literacy program.

Believe and Read is not an all-new curriculum for the school, but serves more as an add-on program to what is already being taught, Shepherd said.

The new program is set to be a “great match” with what was already being taught in the classroom, Jane Bona, Immaculate Conception school principal said.

Teachers at Immaculate Conception already have an hour and a half designated for language arts and literacy, and now 30 minutes of that time will be for the Groves curriculum, Bona said.

This year, the program is for kindergarten through second grade, but the program will include third grade next school year. Preschool teachers are also able to participate, Bona said.

“This program will definitely reach every child where they’re at and make sure that we don’t leave them behind,” Bona said.


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