Burleson ISD Students Place 8th in National Reading Contest

Teacher wins Learning Ally’s Great Reading Games Social Media Contest


BURLESON, Texas (April 11, 2017) — Students at the Academy at Nola Dunn in Burleson  Independent School District (BISD) placed 8th in Learning Ally’s Great Reading Games reading contest. Thirty-one Academy at Nola Dunn students competed against 17,308 students in more than 1,200 schools across the country to win a Top 10 Spot. The Academy at Nola Dunn students, Principal Lindsey Byrd and dyslexia teacher Dana Blackaby, in addition to BISD certified orientation and mobility specialist Tonya Harden, were recognized by the Board of Trustees and awarded certificates at the April 10 board meeting.


Harden’s vision brought the Learning Ally’s Great Reading Games to the Academy at Nola Dunn and Blackaby’s #BragAboutYourShelf social media posts earned her first place in the teacher social media contest.


The Great Reading Games is unique in that participating students have a learning difference or print disability, like dyslexia, blindness, or a visual impairment which slows their reading abilities. During the Great Reading Games, Academy at Nola Dunn students worked to overcome their reading difficulty with the right kind of support and inspiration, teachers and technology. Together, Academy at Nola Dunn students read 72,707 pages in seven weeks through audiobooks.


“To place nationally in the first year of competition is remarkable and a reflection of the hard work and dedication these students put into reading,” Dr. Bret Jimerson, BISD Superintendent said. “As a district, we continuously work to provide tools of the day to our students and this is an impressive example of how students thrive when given the tools for success.”  


Students read titles from textbooks, non-fiction or literature, and downloaded the books directly to their tablets, computers, smartphones, Chromebooks and other devices.


Students connected with their stories and went to great lengths to read as much as possible,” Dr. Lucretia Gartrell, BISD Executive Director of Special Services said. “Technology was essential to the number of pages read and points earned, as students were able to read on their Chromebooks before and after school, and at home.”


During the Great Reading Games, students also created and shared memes, and made connections on social media using #GRG17, #Read4All and #BragAboutYourShelf.


Each student received a prize bag with a T-shirt, earbuds, screen cleaner and a reading guide for their technology device. The team also received a gift card for a celebratory party. Blackaby received a Chromebook for placing first in the teacher #BragAboutYourShelf social media contest.


“Educators and schools involved in the Learning Ally Great Reading Games are true champions for students and readers across the country,” said Terrie Noland, Learning Ally National Director of Educator Engagement. “Because they are ensuring all readers have access to grade-level books and helping struggling readers to love books in the process, they are building a positive culture of reading in their school and therefore transforming students into confident, lifelong learners who can succeed in the workforce and in society.”



Founded in 1948, Learning Ally supports K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom read and learn differently due to dyslexia, blindness or visual impairment, and other disabilities. Through its extensive community events and support programs, Learning Ally enables parents, teachers and specialists to help students thrive and succeed. The organization hosts live and virtual events for families and teachers; provides instructive webinars led by experts as well as peer-to-peer sessions led by students; and professional development workshops for educators.

Learning Ally’s collection of over 80,000 human-read audio textbooks and literature titles can be downloaded by students using their smartphones and tablets, and is the largest of its kind in the world. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Learning Ally is partially funded by grants from state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information, visit LearningAlly.org.



Burleson Independent School District serves more than 11,000 students at 16 campuses, and is recognized as a premier school district in the Dallas/Fort Worth-area. The mission of Burleson Independent School District is to engage and support every learner with a rigorous curriculum so that they graduate college and career ready.



Mikala Hill or Katelyn Tyler

Burleson ISD Communications