Read To Achieve program gives kids lifelong gift
The children, all second-graders at Gypsum Elementary School, are part of the State of Colorado’s and the Eagle County School District’s Read to Achieve program.
Funded by the money from the multi-state tobacco suit bankroll, the program helps second- and third graders who need help with reading. If testing finds children are not reading at grade level, those kids are given individual learning plans and spend several hours per week with program teachers to bolster their reading skills.
“Teachers work in small groups and sometimes in one-on-one tutorials to supplement what the students are getting in regular class,” says Gary Rito, the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and staff development.
Sherry Lobb and Margaret Edwards are the program’s teachers at Gypsum Elementary and have worked to incorporate the different ways that children learn into the program. The students have access to a new book and cassette program and the Time Magazine for kids supplement. The students also get books they can take home and keep.
The two teachers currently work with about 30 students, using a number of different methods such as reading out loud, stopping to review reading comprehension, and use of pictures to help the students learn.
The are also organizing a family literature night for parents and students in the program.
“It’s a way to help parents with reading strategies, encourage them to read with their kids and to build vocabulary. Twenty minutes a night will work wonders and gives kids a chance to talk to mom and dad or grandparents,” says Lobb.
The children love the program, reading out loud and learning to pronounce the words that challenge them the most. When asked what challenged them the most about a recent book, the children demonstrated the different methods they each used to figure those words out.
“I had a hard time with “uh-oh.” It’s looks strange,” says Anders. Green used the stretching method to pronounce “squirrel” and Chanders used a corresponding picture to figure out “grandpa.”
“Students (in the district) have a lot of advantages, more resources and level books for guided reading,” says Lobb, who is a visiting international faculty member. “Most kids in the program have come a long way. Its just a little bit of extra support and after this year, they will be reading at grade level for third grade.”
Recently, because of shrinking resources coming from the multi-state tobacco settlement, the program is in danger across the state. The school board recently provided $113,000 to keep the program going.
“Reading is the No. 1 priority. The school board put their money where their mouths are. It was time to ante up and they stepped up,” says Rito. “Come next year, we will either have to find another subsidy to run the program or cut back on the number of teachers in the program.”
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.