WEBB CITY, Mo. — Many teachers worry about learning loss during summer break. Those concerns ratcheted up in the early month of the pandemic with remote learning.

Now, a new strategy to help students catch up. It’s a state grant focusing on how best to help Southwest Missouri students improve in reading and math.

“I’ve been so excited about being able to go and do other things,” said Kathy Tackett, CJ R-1 Assistant Superintendent.

Dr. Kathy Tackett is trading in more than 30 years spent in K-12 schools. She’s one of several new educational experts who will build on their experience as new consultants for the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence.

“There will be three reading and three math. The reading will focus on the Missouri initiative that they’ve established ‘Read, Lead, and Exceed,'” said Dr. Melissa Massey, SWC Executive Director.

The educational consultants will work directly with school districts on how to best help students learn. The program will focus on achieving grade-level skills.

“So we’ll work with our smaller rural districts who, a lot of times can’t get up to the workshops. Plus, right now subs are so hard to find. We have a true crisis when it comes to subs. So the benefit in our math consultants is they will be going into our districts and working with teachers on their planning time.”

With strategies like how students think problems out.

“They’re going to articulate that math procedure. So to be able to put their thought processes as to why they’re getting to this. But more importantly, they’re also going to listen to their peers and together they’re going to solve math problems, because our days are packed and math is hard to fit in and it can fit in in so many areas,” said Dr. Massey.

The state initiative aims to train 15,000 teachers across Missouri in the reading strategies alone.

The consultants are free to Southwest area school districts.