Literacy is the foundation on which all learning is built. As the world catches on to the universal truths about how to best teach kids to learn to read, districts like the Hoboken Public School District in New Jersey are literacy pioneers, leading the way toward that future. Since the start of the pandemic, two passionate educators at Hoboken Public Schools, Sandra Rodriguez-Gomez, assistant superintendent, and Christy Gaudio, RTI District Coordinator, have been leading the charge for the implementation of the IMSE Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach to teach literacy across grade levels at district schools.

A former principal and director of early childhood education, Sandra, who was born and raised in Newark and once a Head Start child herself, knows all too well the power that incredible teachers can have on children. Following safety measures, she helped keep the doors open at Hoboken throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to give parents a choice of the appropriate learning environment. She also saw the implicit learning loss that occurred during remote learning, and it became clear their literacy teaching methods needed changing. 

After connecting with a reading specialist at the school who spoke at length about her journey with IMSE Orton-Gillingham, she sought funding from the Hoboken Public Education Foundation. Joining forces with Christy Gaudio, RTI District Coordinator, the two mobilized to find a partner to train its teachers in a comprehensive program anchored in the Science of Reading.

With Superintendent permission, Sandra and Christy selected IMSE to facilitate professional development and moved fast— within the first year, 38 teachers were trained. By the second year, that number had grown to 55. As training has progressed, the school district completed its second phase of IMSE OG training resulting in 100% of its K-2 teachers being trained in the IMSE OG methodology. The district also trained all of its reading specialists, K-5 special education teachers, a core group of special education resource room teachers, and one lead teacher in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades in each of its elementary schools. 

The district’s next move is to assemble a cohort of literacy leaders with IMSE Instructor Certification, to have in-house instructors that can train new teachers, provide coaching and refreshers for existing staff, and extend to the middle school and beyond to have a uniformity of language and literacy expectations across all grade levels.

Feedback has been extremely positive, and while it can take 4-5 years to see a major impact, literacy gains in some grades are as high as 20%.

Says Gaudio, “Our teachers now have the critical tools they need to provide explicit instruction that helps all their students learn to read. Teachers are coming up and saying thank you, and it’s been remarkable to see their progress.”

The Hoboken Public School District is a leading example of how to combat the learning loss caused by the pandemic. By prioritizing literacy education and implementing the IMSE Orton-Gillingham approach, the Hoboken school district is training its teachers to provide explicit instruction that helps every student read at grade level. The more teachers are trained with an IMSE Instructor Certification, the more uniformity of language and literacy is ensured across all grade levels. The Hoboken Public School District’s approach to learning acceleration, rather than learning loss, is a promising model for other school districts to follow in the years ahead. To learn more about how Hoboken Public Schools created momentum and broad teacher support to implement IMSE OG, please please call us directly: (844) 325-3149.