The Bellarmine Literacy Academy

Jefferson County Public Schools Bellarmine Literacy Project, Bullitt County Reading Academy, Carroll County Reading Academy, Oldham County Reading Academy

About the Academy

As educators, we are committed to ensuring every student is a proficient reader. The most direct and effective way to accomplish this goal is to have expert reading teachers in every classroom.

To this end, the Bellarmine University Literacy Academy presents an innovative capacity-building model for teacher development in research-based, culturally relevant reading instruction, with an emphasis on deep training through distributed learning and practice.

The Academy is not a professional development class. Although teachers will develop knowledge and expertise to better do their jobs, it is much more comprehensive than a traditional PD workshop. Participants engage in intensive, graduate-level coursework—because it is an intensive, graduate-level course.

The Model

The Bellarmine Literacy Academy model is comprised of four parts:

  • The Teacher Academy, comprised of K through 3 teachers who work with students every day at their elementary schools
  • Instructional Leadership, comprised of literacy project instructors and coaches who meet with teachers in the classroom and at regularly scheduled intervals for group discussion
  • The Fellowship for Principals, comprised of dedicated principals and assistant principals committed to effecting change at their respective schools
  • Assessment and Evaluation, which brings together meaningful and measurable student achievement data and teacher growth data via a thorough K-3 literacy assessment.

What We Offer

The Bellarmine University Literacy Academy presents an innovative, unique and exciting collaborative opportunity between your school district and Bellarmine University.

Participating teachers will gain expertise in:

  • Building their long-term capacity as an alternative to purchasing commercially available reading programs
  • Deep training and coaching in evidence-based literacy practices
  • Focusing on evidence-based practices for maximum benefit to students, teachers and schools

In addition, teachers will enjoy many tangible benefits through membership in the Bellarmine University Literacy Academy:

  • Participants receive up to 12 hours of graduate credit from Bellarmine University that can be applied toward an advanced degree, reading specialist endorsement or Rank I—at no cost to them
  • Classes are conveniently located at various public schools throughout their county outside regular school day hours
  • Books and materials are provided to participants at no cost
  • Participants will attend class one night per week for two semesters at a local public school site for a total of approximately 30 classes
  • Job-embedded coaching from their home school’s Literacy Coach—in their own classroom
  • A dedicated support network comprised of their cohort of teacher-colleagues
  • Support from district staff and school principals
  • Bellarmine faculty and staff support

Success Stories

  • Since its inception in 2012, the Academy has trained more than 1,000 teachers in 99 participating schools in Jefferson, Carroll, Bullitt and Oldham counties, with potential for expansion throughout Kentucky and beyond.
  • Recent results from a survey of 120 participating teachers found that more than 90 percent felt their knowledge of reading and instruction had “greatly improved” due to the BLP. 
  • After the BLP’s first year, participating teachers reported the percentage of their students who were able to proficiently decode and read text jumped from 9 to 33 percent.
  • The Bellarmine Literacy Academy model correlates with success in statewide K-PREP testing: a third grader who reads at grade level has a 7 in 10 likelihood of scoring as proficient or distinguished—a higher-than-average score made possible by the hands-on intervention of trained teachers.

Fast Facts, by the Numbers

Jefferson County (JCPS) Bellarmine Literacy Project

  • Years active: 2014 - 2018     
  • Total schools to date: 73
  • Teachers: 1,216 (including 390 returning Year 2 participants)
  • Dr. Robert B. Cooter Jr.

Bullitt County Reading Academy

  • Years active: 2016 - present
  • Total schools: 11
  • Teachers: 178     
  • Dr. Mary Ann Cahill

Carroll County Reading Academy

  • Years active: 2016 - 2018
  • Total schools: 2
  • Teachers: 34
  • Dr. Winn Wheeler

Oldham County Reading Academy

  • Years active: 2012 - 2017
  • Total schools: 13
  • Teachers: 161
  • Dr. Elizabeth Dinkins

If your school or district would like more information about joining the Bellarmine Literacy Academy, contact

Dr. Elizabeth Dinkins: Actively Addressing the Challenge of Teaching Literacy
Dr. Elizabeth Dinkins is the interim dean of the Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education at Bellarmine University.

Dr. Robert Cooter: Blazing a Trail from Dallas to Memphis to Louisville and Beyond
Dr. Robert Cooter is a founder of the Bellarmine Literacy Project.