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Superintendent Woods appoints leader to build statewide literacy coaching model

January 17, 2024 – State School Superintendent Richard Woods has selected Dr. J. Nicholas Philmon, who played an integral role in the development of structured literacy practices in Marietta City Schools, to develop and lead a statewide literacy coaching model in Georgia.

As Structured Literacy Coaching Coordinator, Dr. Philmon – who will retain his position with Marietta City Schools while contracting with GaDOE – will work to build the capacity of schools and districts to deliver proven, nationally recognized training in structured literacy and the science of reading.

“As we've heard from former Mississippi Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright, 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," State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “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 role overseeing the Georgia Literacy Coach initiative, Dr. 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 GaDOE's partnership with the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy to provide literacy courses for K-5 teachers and leaders along with a two-year literacy leadership cohort.

Dr. Philmon has been part of Marietta City Schools' efforts to align instruction to structured literacy and the science of reading from the beginning – first as a school-based Literacy coach and ultimately as K-5 ELA Coordinator for the district.

In that role, he coordinated the professional learning and teacher support provided by school-based literacy coaches, led structured literacy training for teachers and administrators, and adapted district pacing and guidance documents to better align phonics instruction with research-based structured literacy practices. He also worked to plan the content of the district's K-3 professional learning partnership with the Rollins Center – on which GaDOE's statewide partnership is based.

Dr. Philmon holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from Mercer University, where his research focused on teacher coaching.

“Dr. Philmon's appointment to spearhead Georgia's statewide literacy initiative is a clear recognition of Marietta City Schools' leadership in this critical area of education," Marietta City Schools Superintendent Grant Rivera said. “Our district has been at the forefront of implementing structured literacy and the science of reading. His expertise and drive have been an important part of our success. His passion for literacy education will make a significant impact across Georgia, shaping the future of countless students."

About the Georgia Department of Education's Literacy Efforts
The Georgia Department of Education is committed to supporting and improving early literacy, knowing the vital impact of students' ability to read on all future educational attainment. Recent efforts include the launch of the Georgia Literacy Academy for K-5 teachers and leaders statewide and the establishment of a dedicated Director of Literacy position at the state level. Earlier this fall, GaDOE recognized 155 schools with exceptional achievement or growth in third-grade reading as Literacy Leaders.