As the Summit Public Schools literacy coach for pre-kindergarten through fifth grades, Alicia Luick’s role is to lend support to classroom teachers primarily in the areas of reading and writing.

“I work with the teachers in developing curriculum, planning lessons and units, identifying student needs through assessments, and targeting instructions to meet those needs,” Luick said. “I also keep the teachers informed on the most recent research and pedagogy in the literacy field and assist them in translating this information for application in the classroom.”

Luick joined the Summit staff in May 2010 to fill the newly developed position of literacy coach. The position was funded the first year by the Summit Educational Association (SEF) and this year is being supported by the federal Education Jobs Fund.

For the past five years, the Summit Public Schools has been working with consultants from Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing program to assist in literacy development for elementary school students. The position of literacy coach was designed to provide in-house daily, job embedded support for the reading and writing workshop model and to assure the model is consistently implemented throughout all five of Summit’s elementary schools and two primary centers.

“Part of my role is to consult with experts in the field of literacy, and to bring this information back to the Summit classrooms,” Luick said.

She explained that the reading and writing workshop model promotes a balanced literacy approach that includes word study, small group instruction, read-aloud, and reading and writing workshop.

“Reading and writing workshop is a structure in which we teach language at its core,” Luick said. “We’re teaching kids to read through the use of ‘just right’ texts that are selected for each student’s developmental skills, and we’re teaching them the writing process from generating and collecting ideas through drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.”

Luick believes that the addition of a literacy coach to the staff has had positive results. “Overall we’ve had greater success with the reading and writing workshop model because teachers have ready access to support and resources,” she said. “The energy level and student motivation have increased, test scores have risen, and there is increased focus on employing specific strategies to help individual students.” She added that the support of the position by the SEF has increased community awareness of the importance of having a balanced literacy approach to teaching reading and writing.

Luick has been an educator for the past 15 years. She has an undergraduate degree in music education from Youngstown State University and two master’s degrees from Fordham University, one in curriculum and teaching with an emphasis on reading and literacy and the other in administration and supervision. She previously had been a music teacher and a third grade classroom teacher in Upper Saddle River.

Luick’s interests and talents also extend far beyond the classroom. If she’s not working, she’s singing.  As a classical singer, she has traveled to Bejing to perform in the Bejing 2008 Olympic Festival;  to Vienna to perform in the International Haydn Festival; and to Sydney to participate in the performance of John Rutter’s Mass of the Children at the Sydney Opera House.  This coming summer, she will again be traveling to London to solo in Beethoven’s Symphony #9 as part of the London 2012 Olympic Festival.