Thanks to Jenelle Bryant, the youngest learners at Seaton Elementary School in Washington, D.C., are thriving. As the school’s reading specialist, Bryant works intensively with a small group of students each semester who are reading below grade level. She knows the early intervention is an opportunity to close the gap and change children’s trajectories. Bryant uses individual student data to design lessons that are hands-on, cross-curricular and kinesthetic. She oversees testing and assessment, and works with Seaton’s K-2 teachers to improve literacy strategies and outcomes for all students. Bryant’s “discontinuation rate,” representing students whose reading skills improve enough that they no longer need her help, is an impressive 88%, significantly higher than both D.C. Public Schools and the national average.
Energetic and dynamic, Bryant centers her practice around making sure all learners’ needs are met while also finding joy in learning. She chairs Seaton’s equity committee, leading professional development around anti-bias practices and pushing her peers to examine their biases and question their thinking. Bryant mentors student teachers from local universities, trains pre-service preschool teachers, and leads a professional learning community as Seaton’s LEAP (LEarning together to Advance our Practice) coach. When she was a classroom teacher, Bryant often welcomed visitors into her first-grade room to observe. Bryant also mentors aspiring reading specialists at the DC Reading Clinic to ensure best practices in literacy instruction are disseminated across the entire city.
Bryant is dedicated to building trusting, meaningful relationships with families to make school a joyful place for learners. She communicates with parents and caregivers regularly and invites them into the school to participate in ways that highlight each family’s special skill set. As a facilitator for the Flamboyan Foundation’s Family Engagement Collaborative, Bryant leads districtwide professional development on best practices for family engagement and works with a group of 30 educators in a yearlong professional learning community. She uses charts to track data and touchpoints, making sure positive interactions predominate teachers’ communications with families. As a classroom teacher, Bryant visited every family at home at the beginning of the year to help build the trusting relationships needed to support students academically. Seaton credits Bryant’s efforts to spread effective family engagement practices with the school’s recent academic gains.
Bryant earned a bachelor’s in human development in 2011 and a master’s in early childhood education in 2012 from Howard University.
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