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College of Education to provide books, professional development as part of First Book grant

Lipscomb's College of Education is making a difference one teacher and one student at a time.

Kim Chaudoin | 

Teacher talking in hallway with students

More than 10,000 books are being distributed to children in high priority schools in Metro Nashville Public Schools and Murfreesboro City Schools through a partnership between Lipscomb University’s College of Education and Middle Tennessee State University as the result of a $50,000 grant from First Book.

Suze Gilbert, lead faculty for reading speciality in Lipscomb’s College of Education, and Katie Schrodt, assistant professor in MTSU’s Department of Elementary and Special Education, collaborated with nonprofits Read TO Succeed and Book’Em on this initiative. The grant provides 10,000 books to children and teachers in high priority schools in MNPS and Murfreesboro.  In addition to the books, the grant also provides funding for professional development for teachers in those schools. Gilbert and Schrodt are hosting teachers from MNPS and Murfreesboro City schools on both the Lipscomb University and MTSU campuses throughout the winter months to engage in professional learning on Family Literacy Nights and Disciplinary Literacy.  Each participating school will receive books to give to children during a Family Literacy Night to be held at each school and books to build classroom libraries.  

“We believe in the critical change that can happen in literacy education when schools, communities and higher education institutions partner together,” said Gilbert. “The College of Education at Lipscomb University and the College of Education at MTSU formed a partnership with the literacy nonprofits Book’Em and Read TO Succeed because we believe that all children should have access to high quality books.”  

Head shot of Suze Gilbert

Suze Gilbert

The Lipscomb-MTSU proposal was selected from among over 100 applications to receive an award from First Book. First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation, a program that will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories. 

Tennessee was among nine states in the first cycle of awards. Additional awards will be granted throughout 2019. First Book estimates the total value of the books distributed will be more than $12 million.

“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book and this partnership between Lipscomb University and Middle Tennessee State University is an investment not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall wellbeing of our nation.”

Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States, according to Research indicates that just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes, yet low-income communities across the U.S. are plagued by vast ‘book deserts’—with one community having only a single book per as many as 830 children (Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016.) 

We believe in the critical change that can happen in literacy education when schools, communities and higher education institutions partner together. — Suze Gilbert

This is the latest recognition of the quality and effectiveness of Lipscomb University’s College of Education. In 2019, it was once again recognized as one of the most effective teacher preparation programs in the state as it earned top scores on the Teacher Preparation Report Card released in the spring by the Tennessee State Board of Education. The report marks the eighth consecutive year that state data on the effectiveness of new Tennessee teachers indicates Lipscomb’s College of Education is once again one of the most effective teacher preparation programs in the state. Last year the college’s undergraduate secondary teacher preparation program has been named one of the top in the country by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The Lipscomb College of Education’s teacher preparation program is consistently ranked among the top in the nation by NCTQ. Lipscomb’s College of Education was also awarded a $2.49 million grant in 2019 from the Kern Family Foundation to develop an innovative leadership development program for principals focused on character, academic excellence and business acumen in the rising generation of leaders.
Want to know more about Lipscomb University’s College of Education? Visit

About First Book
First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through sustainable, market-driven models, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources, including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more, affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 175 million books and educational resources, worth more than $1.5 billion, reaching more than 5 million children annually across the U.S. and Canada.

First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources. Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up at For more information, please visit