Education

Published on July 20th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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District Five school launches bookmobile to bolster summer reading

Jennifer Qualls (left) and Kellee Edwards (right) make a July visit as part of their new H. E. Corley Elementary School Corley Bookmobile. 

IRMO – H. E. Corley Elementary School teachers Kellee Edwards and Jennifer Qualls are serious about preventing summer slide.

“We had tried a number of things to make sure students were reading over the summer and didn’t slide backwards in terms of skills they gained before the summer break,” said Edwards, a reading recovery teacher at the Lexington-Richland School District Five leadership magnet school. “We had opened the library during the summer, we sent summer reading lists home…we tried several things. Then we just decided, if they won’t come to where the books are …We’ll take the books to them.”

The pair started the Corley Bookmobile this summer, delivering books to students from their school. Braving rain, extreme heat – even the occasional family dog; they have been delivering books since early June to more than 30 students weekly. It’s all an effort to make sure students retain what they’ve learned in the previous school year and return to school in August ready to learn new reading skills, Qualls said.

“It depends on the student and the student’s activities during the summer, but sometimes it can take nine weeks for a student to regain the reading skills they lost over the two months or so of summer,” Qualls said. “The reactions from the students have been great. We’ll get to the door and some will scream ‘The teachers are here. The teachers are here. We’re excited that they’re excited about reading.”

Qualls and Edwards sought volunteers for the bookmobile during the last few weeks of the 2014-15 school year, sending letters to the parents of students who needed reading intervention then taking request from other students who “just wanted books during the summer.” The books, purchased through a school fundraiser, are carefully selected and sorted based on reading levels, loaded into Edwards’ car and loaned to students weekly.

Many students also write essays, and all discuss the books with Edwards and Qualls to build reading comprehension and a love of literature. Parents say the summer bookmobile has helped their students retain important skills and taken the “burden of finding just right books off of the parent.”

“It definitely takes the stress off of the parent,” said McKenzie Costner, who signed up for the Corley Bookmobile to help her rising third grader, Payton, keep his reading skills sharp.

“Of course as a parent I feel like I know what he’s interested in, but I don’t want something that’s too tough or not challenging enough and this is where these ladies come in,” she said. I’ve seen tremendous progress…I’ve probably seen the most significant difference through the end of last school year and into this summer. He is reading on his own and he now loves to read.”

  1. E. Corley Elementary School Principal Dr. Judy Franchini said she’s proud to have two of her teachers take initiative to ensure summer slide is curbed, a love of reading continues to grow and students are ready to progress smoothly into the next school year.

“All I did was say yes,” she said. “These two teachers took the lead, and it was their idea. H. E. Corley is a leadership magnet, and Ms. Qualls and Ms. Edwards have demonstrated what educational leadership is all about. I’m just really proud of them.”

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