Focused reading groups to improve literacy skills

The Reading Warriors, along with other programs, provide Blue Ridge Elementary School (BRES) students with resources to benefit their academic futures.

The Reading Warriors is a group of volunteers who read with second grade students to help improve reading and literacy. In one-on-one and group settings, the students read out loud while the volunteers take notes and provide them to their teacher.

“They’re not only helping with the literacy skills, they’re also helping with the confidence level of students,” BRES Principal Dave Clark said. “We know when our students understand reading better it does make them more confident, and reading is the cornerstone of everything in our society so that Reading Warriors group has definitely been a great addition to our campus.”

Clark explained the program began this school year and was organized by Parent Teacher Student Organization President Aly Brandon.

Clark is determined to put BRES students on the path to academic success, so he said addressing the issue of reading and literacy is essential.

A National School Board Association report states, “The research is clear: if children cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade, they face daunting hurdles to success in school and beyond. Third grade marks a pivot point in reading.”

The Reading Warriors work with second grade students so they can practice their reading and literacy skills before the crucial third-grade year.

“If we get them to a strong foundation with reading at the third grade level, they’re going to be much more apt to be successful their school career, K12, and they’re more apt to want to continue their education after K12,” Clark said.

But, the efforts to improve those skills are not limited to second grade students.

The Rotary Volunteer Reading Mentors (RVRM) is in its second year of working with BRES students in Kindergarten through sixth grade.

Robert Butler, Rotary Club member, coordinated the RVRM program at the school after he noticed how successful it was at another school in Tucson.

“Our biggest goal this year was to work on the literacy level of all of our students,” Clark said. “We’ve got our high readers, we’ve got our middle-of-the-road readers and we’ve got our lower readers. So, we’ve done a lot of things to help out in that area.”

The school also implemented a Professional Learning Community (PLC) this year, which allows each grade level common planning time every day of the school week.

During the PLC meetings, “every single conversation revolves around what’s best for kids, how to get advancement with kids. They look at data, they look at their kids within their respective classrooms, they provide resources to their grade-level colleagues,” Clark said.

The Reading Warriors, the RVRM and the PLC are just a few of the initiatives BRES takes to prepares its students for academic success.

Sierra Ciaramella

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