Education

Published on July 25th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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District Five hosts Read to Succeed Summer Reading Camp Celebration

Students in District Five’s Summer Reading Camp show book bags they received through a United Way grant.

IRMO – Lexington-Richland School District Five held a July 23 celebration for 44 of its students completing a new state-funded summer reading camp aimed at improving student literacy.

Summer reading camps statewide were one of the many components of South Carolina’s Act 284, also known as Read to Succeed, which was signed into law in June 2014. Under the law, every district must identify third grade students who are not reading proficiently on grade level and provide them with the opportunity to attend a summer reading camp. District Five also has school-sponsored reading initiatives, including a reading camp at H. E. Coley Elementary and access to school libraries at several schools.

“We wanted to build on the reading growth that students made in third grade, and in order to do that we needed to keep them reading books all summer long,” said Sally Somerall, lead teacher and coordinator for the district’s Read to Succeed Summer Camp. “Through the program, we were able to provide them with access to books that they wanted to read and books that were appropriate for their reading level. In addition to that, we provided instruction to address the needs of each reader. It’s been a tremendous benefit to these students, and we’re excited to see their progress throughout the school year.”

The state-mandated camps included at least 96 instructional hours of intensive reading intervention with qualified teachers. Transportation was also included. At District Five’s Summer Reading Camp Celebration, each student was surprised with a new book bag and personal library of 20 books provided through a United Way grant.

“For us, the Read to Succeed Summer Camp gives these students an opportunity to come back from the summer prepared for fourth grade,” said District Five Director of Elementary Education Michael Guliano, adding that teachers included science and social studies lessons during the camp. “The celebration and generous grant from United Way helped us celebrate all that they accomplished…And, in general, we know that these students have been nourished with reading and writing this summer, giving them a great start to the new school year.”

Educators say the camps focused on improving reading skills but also gave students tools to help them become lifelong learners. The five-week camp housed at Harbison West Elementary School included independent reading, assisted reading, writing workshops, and access to over 2,000 books.

“It has definitely increased their positive attitude towards reading and encouraged them to pick up books that they otherwise may not have while they are on summer break,” said Carianne Johnson, an Irmo Elementary teacher and one of the teachers for the district’s Read to Succeed camp. “We tried to give them strategies to put in their reading tool belt and skills that they could carry with them into fourth grade. It has definitely helped and made a difference.”

For rising fourth grade students like McKenzie Bell and Tyree McCray, the reading camp was more fun than expected.

“We got to explore. We got to go to book fairs and read chapter books…it was fun,” said Bell, an H. E. Corley Elementary student. “I like reading because when I go to fourth grade, I will read a lot and I’ll pass books on to other people so that they can start reading more.”

McCray, who attends Irmo Elementary, added, “When I was in first grade, I read really slow. Then I started reading really fast just to get it over with, but I didn’t understand what I read. Now, I don’t think reading is boring. I make pictures in my mind while others are reading to me, and I read in my mind to learn about new things.”

Reading initiatives abound in District Five, with several programs throughout the year including a book club for kindergarten students at Lake Murray Elementary and an afterschool homework center at Irmo Elementary during the school year. At H. E. Corley Elementary, educators have held a school-sponsored summer reading camp for the past five years. Started in 2011, the school’s camp is funded through fundraisers and offers whole group and small group instruction for rising first and second graders who need reading intervention services.

“This program and others like it have helped compensate for summer slide,” said Jennifer Adams, a District Five Reading Recovery teacher who works at the leadership magnet school’s camp. “We know that most students regain and in some cases surpass their end of year reading scores because of this camp. Because of the leadership of the school’s principal and the staff, students are able to stay on track and more importantly gain the confidence to help them continue on a path to academic success.”

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