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Challenged to Read

Sts. Francis & Joseph School succeeds in getting children excited about reading
An excited student accepts her prize from Tiffany Glass, principal of Sts. Francis & Joseph.

One of the perennial issues teachers face is how to get their students excited about reading. Solving this vexing problem extends beyond getting students to plod through chapters of their textbooks during school hours. Real success lies in students picking up a book, apart from homework, when they get home.

In an effort to encourage students to read for pleasure and become lifelong readers, Sts. Francis & Joseph School initiated a reading challenge, which was launched on January 8. Students participating in the challenge were required to read daily and record the number of books they read. To make the challenge more exciting, participants were required not only to read, but to complete at least five out of 20 challenges while doing so. These challenges included reading to a stuffed animal, reading to the nuns at St. Martin Monastery, reading by the beach and reading to an administrator. As an incentive to opening a book, for every 20 books read, participants were rewarded with a raffle ticket and a book buck, which could be used for purchase of toys and other fun items.

Of course getting children to read more is just one piece of the puzzle; the other is ensuring all students are proficient readers. According to the United States (U.S.) Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (2015 National Center for Education Statistics), only one third of elementary students in the U.S. were proficient, based on a national assessment of reading skills. The problem of low levels of reading is not unique to our community, according to education officials. To counter this issue, Sts. Francis and Joseph School has a dynamic corrective reading program for students who are not reading at their proficiency level.

The Sts. Francis & Joseph Corrective Reading Programme provides additional reading assistance and instruction for struggling readers.

“I like to describe the program as an ‘extra snack of reading’ during the school day,” said Latoya Hanna, reading specialist at Sts. Francis & Joseph School.

“Students in need of literacy assistance are identified and extra instruction is provided, as the ‘main course’ of reading instruction is insufficient for these struggling readers.” The program has a high success rate; students receiving instruction in the corrective reading program usually reach grade level competence and do not require further instruction. The program implements traditional methods of instruction, integrated with technology including online reading instruction, the use of tablets and Aliv-powered phones.

“I like reading to learn new words and journey to places I would have never gone before,” said Quiniska Price, a sixth grade student and reading challenge participant. “Reading helps expand your imagination and vocabulary.”

Hanna said the reading challenge is an important initiative because it fosters a love for recreational reading,

“Research has shown that students who are avid readers usually perform better academically when compared to students who do not read daily. Therefore, it is imperative that students read daily to ensure their academic success.”

The reading challenge ended March 23 with an awards ceremony during which top participants were awarded prizes provided by Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, McDonald’s Restaurant, Bank of The Bahamas and Fourth Terrace Diagnostic Center.

Margo Cox, general manager/area leader of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, said Menchie’s was pleased to be a part of the reading challenge.

“We were so happy to be a part of the reading challenge awards ceremony. The event aligns with the values of our company. Menchie’s was particularly happy to partner with Sts. Francis & Joseph School, a Catholic Board of Education school. The Catholic education system offers a solid educational program, where learning is more than what is taught in the classroom. The reading challenge was an impressive display of all the values that Menchie’s holds dear — namely education, community, fun and family.

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