Lancaster, Ohio – Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Education Director Steve Dackin recently visited Medill Elementary School in Lancaster City Schools to witness the district’s impressive results from a rigorous literacy and phonics program.
Lancaster City Schools has long emphasized literacy, but their 2019 implementation of instructional coaches and school-wide literacy plans yielded remarkable progress. In 2023, third-grade reading scores surpassed Ohio standards by 68%, and fifth-grade by 67%.
The Governor’s tour showcased various classrooms:
- First grade with Natalie Hetzler, featuring 95% phonics instruction.
- Second grade with Christina Hartman, highlighting small group discussions.
- Third grade with Denise Mauck, demonstrating the EL Curriculum module.
School board members met Governor DeWine, Director Dackin, and district officials to discuss the program’s success.
Director Dackin praised the initiative, stating, “I’m really impressed… They have figured out how to distribute leadership to benefit every student.”
Governor DeWine concurred, noting, “This is working… Thank you.”
He then sought advice for other districts aiming to implement similar programs.
Dr. Jeromey Sheets, Assistant Superintendent, emphasized commitment and quality training: “You have to be willing to buy into the importance of literacy… We chose two years of training for our teachers to ensure they’re the best-trained in Ohio.”
Governor DeWine acknowledged funding concerns, with Superintendent Nathan Hale crediting the supportive school board: “Our board understands the importance of literacy… We see kindergarteners entering at the 25th percentile and reaching the 60th and 70th by third grade. This program is incredible.”
Lancaster City Schools’ literacy program serves as a beacon of success, attracting statewide attention and offering valuable insights for other districts seeking to improve student reading outcomes.