Reading is FundamentalPublished 8:03pm Friday, May 10, 2013
Using their inside voices, 16 kindergarteners called out “froggy” in unison. Each and every one of the Eastern Elementary School students held a book from the Froggy series.
“We’ve been reading Froggy books all week,” said their teacher, Beth Brickhouse. “They were excited they were in here.”
More than 700 books were given to Eastern Elementary School students Friday — and not just the Froggy ones. The collection included chapter books, nonfiction and even a few written in Spanish.
By the end of the year, every Beaufort County Schools student in prekindergarten, kindergarten or first grade will own four books, thanks to an Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant awarded to Beaufort County Schools. The school district was one of 47 (the only district in North Carolina) that were awarded the funds meant to improve reading skills of students.
“We owe it all to Michele Oros. Without her, it would have never happened,” said IAL Director Alida Sawyer. “Michele has used this grant to try to get these students reading at grade level.”
Sawyer said most of the grant money was used for after-school reading programs at Snowden, Northeast, Bath, John Cotten Tayloe and Chocowinity Primary schools. The grant also will cover the costs of this summer’s reading camp for rising third-grade students having trouble reading.
Sawyer said the school system does not have the data to back it up, but Sawyer said could see a change in the tutored students. Their confidence has soared, she said.
The focus on third-grade reading skills is the result of the North Carolina Read to Achieve program that would retain any student who cannot read at grade level by the end of third grade. The program goes into affect next year.
Sawyer, a retired teacher, said it was great to see the students pick out their books at the school’s library.
“I never thought they would’ve been this excited,” she said.
School librarian Jane Mizelle said she loved the idea of giving away the books.
“I love it because it gets these book in the homes of every child,” she said. “They enjoy it every time.”
She stood before a class of kindergarteners, telling the students she wanted them to read their books to their parents, their siblings and their friends.
Students excitedly read and shared their books long before they left the library.
“I picked the ‘Berenstein Bears’ because I liked the book,” said kindergartener Emma Harris.
Classmate Caden Woolard chose a book about snakes. He marveled over the sizes of them as he looked at every picture.
“There’s one back here that’s big,” he said, thumbing through the pages with a big grin.
Mizelle especially liked that students got to pick out their books without her influence or their teachers’ influence.
“All year, it’s grade level, grade level, grade level,” she said. “This gives them freedom. They can pick something way off their level that interests them.”
“We didn’t think we were getting this many because of the funding. This was a nice surprise,” Mizelle said.