In 1996, Dean Shirley Raines from the College of Education hired Dr. Judy Embry to become the Teacher Leader at the University of Kentucky (UK). Also during that school year, Dr. Embry trained Lindy Harmon as a Reading Recovery teacher. During Mrs. Harmon’s training year, a meeting was held with Washington County’s Superintendent Bill Hardin, Lindy Harmon, Judy Embry, and State Senator Dan Kelly (District 14). Senator Kelly was very interested in Reading Recovery due to conversations with Fort Knox Community Schools former superintendent, Dr. Roland Hahn.
During a special legislative session in the spring of 1997, Senator Kelly requested testimony on Reading Recovery from Dr. Embry. Dr. Shirley Raines also spoke to the joint legislative education committee for the creation of an endowed literacy position. In November of 1997, Dr. Embry initiated a fact-finding trip to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The Reading Recovery/Early Literacy fact-finding committee consisted of Dr. Lois Adams-Rodgers, UK; Dr. Denise Jones, UK; Stacy Carmichael, Reading Recovery teacher from Fayette County; Elaine Jones, Reading Recovery teacher/Title I Director, Scott County; State Senator Jack Westwood; and Mike Sunseri, Senate Communications Director who attended the two day meeting at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.
After the fact-finding meeting, Senator Westwood (District 23) and Senator Kelly began the creation of Senate Bill 186. During December of 1997 and January of 1998, several revisions of Senate Bill 186 were exchanged between Dr. Shirley Raines, Dr. Lois Adams-Rodgers, and Dr. Denise Jones, and from Dr. Judy Embry to Senators Kelly and Westwood. These discussions of Reading Recovery led to the development an organizational structure, the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD), to house Reading Recovery and the Kentucky Reading Project.
In January of 1998, as Senate Bill 186 was introduced, Governor Paul Patton and several key legislators observed a Reading Recovery lesson at Hearn Elementary in Frankfort with Reading Recovery teacher Vikki Hall. Senate Bill 186 supported the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD) and early literacy intervention grants for struggling readers.
Senate Bill 186 also required the decision of The Council on Post-Secondary Education to determine the placement of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD). After a Request for Proposal to all the state universities, the University of Kentucky was honored to be selected as the home base for CCLD.
In 1998, the first two initiatives housed by CCLD were Reading Recovery, directed by Dr. Judy Embry, and the Kentucky Reading Project, directed by Cary Pappas. In 2000-2001, Dr. Embry, under the direction of CCLD Director, Nawanna Privett, began the Training of Trainers at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. After Dr. Embry’s year-long training, she established the Reading Recovery Center at the University of Kentucky in 2001. During 2001-2002, Dr. Embry trained 10 new Teacher Leaders as the first official Reading Recovery University Training Center at the University of Kentucky.
During the 2004 Legislative Session, Governor Ernie Fletcher, First Lady Glenna Fletcher, and key legislators observed a Reading Recovery lesson and small literacy groups at Hearn Elementary in Frankfort, Kentucky. Through his new initiative, Read to Achieve, a new wave of early literacy grants added hundreds of teachers to assist young, struggling readers throughout Kentucky.
The Reading Recovery University Training Center at the University of Kentucky created the first statewide Reading Recovery conference for teachers and Teacher Leaders in 2006. Over 350 Reading Recovery teachers came from all over the Commonwealth to Lexington to study and reflect on Dr. Marie Clay’s Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals, Parts One and Two. During the first statewide Reading Recovery conference, the establishment of the Kelly Literacy Leadership Award was presented to Senator Dan Kelly who has been a champion for young, struggling readers in Kentucky.
In 2006, the Reading Recovery University Training Center expanded the staff through Lindy Harmon as a Statewide Teacher Leader. Lindy has strengthened the Reading Recovery Center with her knowledge of children and teachers. Her expertise with leadership and research continued to expand Reading Recovery as Kentucky moved to full implementation for all struggling literacy learners. During the 2006-2007 school year, Reading Recovery services were provided by 413 Reading Recovery teachers and 20 Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders to 3,506 first-grade children in 278 schools within 84 school district.
With the next Gubernatorial administration in 2008, came a new First Lady to champion literacy for the children in Kentucky. First Lady Jane Beshear and Senator Dan Kelly observed Reading Recovery at Hearn Elementary School in Frankfort Kentucky. Later that year Mrs. Beshear observed Reading Recovery and Small Groups in Louisville. During the tough budget years of 2008-2010, Governor Steve Beshear, Mrs. Beshear, and state legislators supported the literacy efforts of Read to Achieve to help hundreds of young struggling literacy learners.
In 2011-2012, the Reading Recovery University Training Center successfully completed part of its Strategic Plan by training another Trainer for the University of Kentucky. Dr. Lindy Harmon became the second trainer for the Reading Recovery Center by completing her certified coursework through The Ohio State University. Dr. Lindy Harmon completed her first training class of four new Teacher Leaders at the University of Kentucky in 2013-2014. These Teacher Leaders supported implementation in Jefferson and Fayette counties.
In 2012-2013, Kentucky began providing professional development to train English Language Learner (ELL) & Special Education teachers as literacy processing specialists in the Literacy Lessons Intervention. This training supports specialist teachers in their work with special populations. The Reading Recovery University Training Center has supported the training of over 40 specialist teachers in the new Literacy Lessons Intervention over the past two years.
From 2010-2015, the University of Kentucky’s (UK) Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant trained 245 Reading Recovery teachers and 5 Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders in 223 schools in 118 school districts. The Reading Recovery University Training Center partnered with The Ohio State University to expand implementation of Reading Recovery to reach more struggling students. The grant provided the opportunity by scaling up Reading Recovery to meet the goal of full implementation in breaking the cycle of literacy failure for primary students in Kentucky. It also provide six graduate credit hours of tuition from UK, books, materials, supplies, and a small stipend to assist with educational expenses related to Reading Recovery training. Upon UK’s completion of the fifth and final year of the grant, the Reading Recovery University Training Center continued to provide training and support for Reading Recovery teachers, Teacher Leaders, and districts.
In 2016, the Reading Recovery University Training Center is celebrating its 15th year anniversary under the leadership of Dr. George Hruby, Executive Director of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development at the University of Kentucky.