California Chapter Board Member Teerath Grewal, Ph.D., Leads Literacy Instruction in the Golden State

By: Byron McCauley, Public Relations Director at The Reading League   |   June 21, 2024

Teerath Grewal sitting her computer

Teerath Grewal, Ph.D., had never heard of The Reading League.

“The science of reading was something I knew about, but I didn’t know that there was this non-profit organization at a national level that was doing all this amazing work,” Dr. Grewal said over coffee at The Reading League Summit 2024, Finding Alignment From Research to Practice.

For Dr. Grewal, attending the Summit on April 27 in San Diego was an opportunity to see other practical approaches to evidence-aligned instruction—in this case, emphasizing bilingual and multilingual students.

Dr. Grewal first learned about the science of reading when she was fresh from graduate school and was assigned to a low-performing school in Bakersfield, California. Almost 90 percent of the students were eligible for free or reduced lunch, and many struggled with reading. The school’s principal was determined to improve the school-wide reading outcomes and began implementing The 95 Percent Group resources as well as providing proper professional development where Dr. Grewal learned more about Structured Literacy, universal screeners, reading diagnostic assessments, evidenced-aligned interventions, and the multi-tiered system of support model (MTSS).

Dr. Grewal recognized the importance of providing additional support to her struggling readers. That’s when she decided to start helping the children one-on-one after school. They saw growth, and she even helped one student to advance a full grade level.

A job change for Dr. Grewal’s spouse required a move to a more affluent area near San Francisco, yet she saw the same issues with literacy. Structured Literacy practices available at her previous school site were not in place at this new site. Struggling readers were not receiving support at their level because the school had not implemented the MTSS approach. The school did not recognize when students fell through the cracks because proper assessments were not being administered. Families came to depend on Dr. Grewal’s instruction to help their children, which led her to start her own online tutoring company, Everest Scholars, rooted in evidence-aligned reading instruction.

Dr. Grewal was eventually introduced to The Reading League while participating in a webinar hosted by Todd Collins of the California Reading Coalition. Kristen Koeller was also on that call. Dr. Grewal listened as Koeller told the group she wanted to start a chapter of The Reading League in California. After Koeller began the chapter, Dr. Grewal became an enthusiastic member of the board of directors.

Teerath Grewal at her computer

Teerath Grewal uses an evidence-aligned approach to literacy instruction in her coaching practice.

Today, Dr. Grewal’s Everest Scholars continues to help students improve their literacy skills and is a trusted resource for parents. She is also a consultant for The 95 Percent Group, which utilizes the science of reading to empower teachers to develop strong readers. And now that she has not only heard of The Reading League but continues to hold a seat on the board of the California chapter, she says she is so grateful for all of the support she has received and the individuals she has connected with since joining.

Nationwide, 6 in 10 fourth graders are not reading proficiently, and many are not reading at a basic level. A significant contributor to this epidemic is instructional materials and practices that do not align with what the research has shown to be most successful. The Reading League chapters can be powerful in addressing students’ reading difficulties. By connecting educators with a growing community of dedicated stakeholders, chapters enhance literacy outcomes in their states by building teacher knowledge and providing access to evidence-aligned resources.

Andrea Setmeyer, national chapter director for The Reading League, praised Dr. Grewal for her leadership and emphasized the importance of local chapters’ work. The Reading League chapters are in 33 states.

“The Reading League is now a national organization that does impactful work. But our state chapters are doing the work right next to you,” Setmeyer said. “So it’s a literacy coach. It’s a school leader. It’s a parent who’s experienced this with their children. They’re there to walk alongside you, orient you to resources in your state, connect you to similar folks in your role, and share how you can work together to improve student literacy.”

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Ryan Buggy

Ryan Buggy is the Professional Development Impact Director at The Reading League. In addition to leading professional learning sessions, he also supports districts in developing assessment strategies and analyzing their data. Prior to joining The Reading League, Ryan worked in the Curriculum Department at Pittsfield Public Schools, was a national LETRS trainer, and previously taught high school English as well as private reading tutoring. In the fall of 2024, Ryan will begin his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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