Southern Huntingdon County School District (SHCSD) is a small rural district in south central Pennsylvania that serves approximately 1,300 K-12 students in four buildings. To reach the high school/middle school, about 75 miles west of the state’s capital, you must pass through the quaint, little town of Rockhill, featuring one stop light, a trolley museum, and one of the district’s three elementary schools. Lush mountains and well-manicured farms provide picturesque scenery for students as they travel, many by bus for over an hour to get to school. But long bus rides are not the biggest challenge for these students and SHCSD leadership.

In a community where 40% of students come from economically disadvantaged homes and approximately 33% of incoming kindergarten students had no experience in a classroom, district leadership recognized the elementary students’ need for improved oral language skills and literacy. Thus began the SHCSD literacy journey outlined here. Take a look:

school year:
SHCSD began implementing their Local Comprehensive Literacy Plan after applying for and receiving a multi-year Keystones to Opportunity (KtO) Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
June 2014: SHCSD received two Keystones to Opportunity Innovation Awards at the PA Literacy Conference. While district officials were thrilled with this recognition, they knew that more work was needed to achieve their long term literacy goals.
March 2015: SHCSD began using GrapeSEED as a supplement to its Language and Literacy curriculum in four kindergarten and first grade classrooms. After only a few weeks of using GrapeSEED, teachers and parents began recognizing how the program was helping all students.

[My daughter] certainly loves that we listen in the car and watch at home. She is able to follow the words even for a short time but I am so excited. Her articulation with the songs and stories is pretty clear as well. Thank you for whatever you went through to implement this program.

–          Mother of GrapeSEED kindergarten special needs student

June 2015: SHCSD received the Accelerating Literacy Achievement Awardat the PA Literacy Conference. This award is given to a KtO district demonstrating actual gains in student achievement in reading, writing, listening and speaking, while also closing the achievement gap by improving instruction and achievement for historically underperforming students.
school year:
Based on the success with GrapeSEED this past spring, SHCSD is planning to deploy GrapeSEED districtwide in all kindergarten and first grade classrooms, in a local preschool, and in several county Head Start classrooms beginning this fall.

Thanks to the support from the PA KtO program, the dedication and hard work of the SHCSD staff/ local community providers, and programs like GrapeSEED, SHCSD is well on its way to achieving their Literacy for Life goals throughout the SHCSD community.

Southern Huntingdon County School District, welcome to the GrapeSEED family!

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