Jan. 14, 2022 - The Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath made a special visit to Goodwin Frazier Elementary Wednesday to observe teachers who have been certified in the Science of Teaching Reading (STR) and to see firsthand how Reading Academies mandated in House Bill 3 are impacting early literacy in Texas schools.
During his visit, Morath took a seat in Emily Borgfeld’s first-grade classroom as she worked with her students on “open syllables,” as well as Amy Ludzenski’s kindergarten classroom as she worked with students on writing the alphabet and sounding out each letter.
Established in 2019 by the 86th Texas Legislature with the passage of HB 3, Reading Academies and STR certification provides teachers with the fundamental knowledge to teach reading and writing and to effectively apply that knowledge in the classroom. Morath praised Comal ISD’s progress when it comes to implementing this early literacy initiative.
“Comal ISD is a place of continuous improvement,” Morath said. “It has one of the best frameworks of any district I have interacted with. As a result, it is able to get better faster and execute and provide the learning environment that kids really need.”
Goodwin Frazier Elementary Principal Carolyn Gump agrees that the district’s framework and structures are key to many of its successes including its implementation of HB 3’s Reading Academies. The district adopted the comprehensive model of certifying teachers and administrators in STR, which is a requirement for kindergarten through third grade teachers throughout the state.
This comprehensive model requires 10 days of in-person professional development, something that Borgfeld and her colleagues were initially skeptical about since it meant being away from their classrooms. Comal ISD provides this training in-house with certified Science of Reading instructors.
“It ended up being the most powerful training any of us have ever been through,” said Borgfeld, who has been teaching for 20 years, eight in Comal ISD. The 10 days are spread out throughout the year and give the teachers the opportunity to learn the curriculum and strategies together and take them back to their classrooms.
“It has been really rewarding to see the progression in my students,” Borgfeld said. “I am really grateful that we had the opportunity to attend the Reading Academy and to open up these doors to stronger, better teaching strategies that are better for our students.”
-Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath takes his turn on the carpet as first-grade students in Emily Borgfeld’s class review open syllables at Goodwin Frazier Elementary. Pictured from left front row is Madeline Albart, Ava Aguilar and Mari Quintanilla; second row from left is Serenity Hughes, Zander Thibodeaux, AJ Valdez and Jacob Yassa.
-Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath speaks to first-grade student Charlie Holland during his visit to Goodwin Frazier Elementary.
-Commissioner Mike Morath sits at a table while students in Amy Ludzenski's kindergarten class work on their letters.
-Goodwin Fraizer Elementary Principal Carolyn Gump watches kindergarten student Jacob Goldfuss write his letters.
-The Goodwin Frazier Elementary first-grade teaching team are pictured with Commissioner Mike Morath, from left is GFES Principal Carolyn Gump, Emily Borgfeld, Caley Llamas, Morath, Molly Winfrey, Ashley Arick and McKinlee Harrison.