Just Read began in 2006 at Meadowcreek Elementary School in Norcross, Georgia, at Title 1 school in the Gwinnett County Public Schools. Meadowcreek Elementary is one of the most diverse schools in the nation with over 80 percent of the school population non English speakers and majority of students on free and reduced lunch. Meadowcreek has also defied expectations by consistently meeting and exceeding academic expectations on a district and national level.
The Just Read developed as a result of a volunteer group of faculty members meeting to decide whether a sustained silent reading program was needed at our school. Even though we were not a failing school, we were worried that our students needed more independent reading opportunities. We met several times during the school year to evaluate the need, get feedback, and research best practices. We then brainstormed how we could implement our findings at our school. Based on our findings, we developed a program we hoped would meet the needs of our students and teachers.
We were eager to implement the program school wide, but our new principal suggested we make it voluntary and start with a pilot program. This turned out to be excellent advice. We had two teachers from each grade level the first year, 2006. The next year we opened it to the entire faculty and thirty (of 64) teachers joined. The third year we had 45 teachers. We had over 90 percent participation each year following and found that many non classroom teachers and school staff wanted to participate somehow in the program.
In 2014, we started a Just Read Program at Magill Elementary School, in Loganville, Georgia, another Title 1 Gwinnett County Public School. We started with about eight teachers and grew to 25 by midyear. This year (2015) we have over 50 members.