Students at Valley View elementary school in read like they had never read before.
The Bountiful kids had a lofty goal: read 256,944 minutes in one month. Students had a variety of reasons for reading. Some enjoyed reading others wanted to improve their skills and comprehension. However, the biggest motivator involved immediate gratification. The students were promised a party — one replete with not only pizza, but also a helicopter visit.
At a glance
Students being tutored at Valley View » 25
Number of reading tutors » 28
Program used for tutoring » STAR Program (Students Tutoring Achievement for Reading)
The students surpassed their goal, notching up 361,004 minutes during the month of February. To achieve this goal, all the students and adults in the school read at least 20 minutes a day, seven days a week.
As a reward for their accomplishment, KSL Chopper 5 landed at the school on March 28.
The entire student body, dressed in red, traipsed out onto the field to greet the helicopter, lining up in formation and with the help of red paper held on their heads spelled out the magic number, 361,004. The pilot was able to read the number from the sky.
"I was extremely excited by how enthusiastic the students were to read. Every student had a book in their hands and they just read and read. I had older students tell me they were reading extra in case some of the little ones didn’t meet their goal," Principal Mary Memmott said.
Students were assisted in meeting their reading goals with KSL READ TODAY program, AmeriCorps and volunteers. The READ TODAY program mission is to help every child learn to read. Teachers know that literacy is one the most important foundational skills a child can have for success throughout life. The program encourages parents, grandparents, neighbors and relatives to get involved in helping children improve their reading skills.
AmeriCorps, the domestic branch of the Peace Corp, incorporates literacy as one of their key goals. Nancy Nielsen, an AmeriCorps member who works at the school, was key in helping students. Nielsen trained volunteers to work with students needing extra help. Volunteers worked one to two hours per week in the school helping students in 30-minute blocks. Volunteers were assigned to individual students for the entire year, allowing them to build rapport.
Nielsen, who trains the volunteers, enjoys watching the relationship that evolves between students and their reading coaches.
"The volunteers feel like their students gain confidence. At the beginning, students feel like they are not good readers but are willing to try to read," Nielsen said. "After working the tutors they become more confident which helps with their feelings of self worth."
One of the volunteers who heeded the call to help is Valley View PE teacher Ted Hallisey. Hallisey thought that helping students read was a good way to spend his lunch break.
"The kids say they get the rewards, but I think I am the one who gets the reward by watching them progress," Hallisey said. "It’s a real fun switch to work with kids outside of PE."
"The volunteers who are helping us with our Read Today program have come from a variety of sources. Some were provided through the LDS Church; some are from the community who want to be of service to the school; and some have responded to the school asking for parents and friends of students to spend 1 to 2 hours weekly in our school helping with the reading program," Nielsen said. "It is a great way to be involved with the school and know that children in the school can benefit from the service these volunteers give."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.