Photo special to the Times Braden Sullivan, with his mother, Shona Mosley, was among a group of students that advanced several reading levels on the DRA2.

Photo special to the Times
Braden Sullivan, with his mother, Shona Mosley, was among a group of students that advanced several reading levels on the DRA2.

In June, White Pine County School District sponsored a successful Summer School program for 64 students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade in an effort to continue to meet the needs of learners enrolled in the District’s elementary schools.

All instruction and exercises focused on improving students’ performance in reading, writing, speaking and listening, math, and science.

The Nevada Academic Content Standards (NVACS) are very rigorous and not all students learn at the same rate. So summer school teachers worked with each other, parents, and students to determine the individual needs of each student who attended.

Students enjoyed components of Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops, project-based research, Math Camp, and science labs featuring insects, plants, animals, and materials.

Rolayne Hanson, program director and WPCSD Literacy Specialist, noted impressive levels of academic growth among students.

“We had the right ingredients for success: happy, productive students, supportive families, an excellent teaching staff, literacy-rich instruction and practices designed to meet individual student’s needs, and engaging activities,” Hanson said. “We accomplished our mission to promote excellence in literacy among our students,”

Braden Sullivan was among a group of students who advanced several reading levels on the DRA2, a state-approved developmental reading assessment that teachers administer to all K-1 students. Braden represents the process followed with other District students: teachers assess to learn the individual gaps in learning and then develop a customized plan which is designed to help the student make as much progress as possible.

Braden’s teachers said they are proud of the progress he made, along with the progress demonstrated by the other students who gave of their summer time to engage in meaningful learning.

Lund teacher Heather Sabaitis observed, “I saw substantial progress in students’ reading levels. In fact, my son, Ryder, improved three levels according to DRA2.”

She added, “Integrating science with reading and writing skills was especially fun for our Lund kids.”

Melony O’Flaherty taught at the David E. Norman site. She captured her thoughts with this comment; “The experience of summer school ignited a fire within our students to become passionate about reading and writing. They made real-life connections to books, recognizing their value and importance in their own lives.”

Summer School teachers included Shauna Nicholes, Melony O’Flaherty, Paula Moore, Heather Sabaitis, and Russell Pantello assisted by Melinda Poulsen, Sandy Hibbs, Tracy Garcia, and Judee Schaley.

Denise Padilla was instrumental throughout the planning and assessing phases.

Principals Cammie Briggs, Robert Bischoff, and Alan Hedges provided timely supervision.

The remarks of children and their parents are perhaps the greatest testament to the mission and success of summer school though. Chelsie Newman, a second-grade student exclaimed, “I love summer school! I got to read lots of interesting books and do projects.”

Parent Dawn Graves reported that her son enjoyed being with his friends in a positive learning environment.

“Aiden has more confidence as a reader,” she said. “I’ve noticed a great improvement in his decoding skills. He’s now eager to read aloud at home. We’d do summer school again in a heartbeat!”

June’s summer school, and another scheduled for August, are funded through the WPCSD’s Read by Grade 3 grant. The District-wide Literacy Plan, closely aligned with the Nevada’s statewide plan, guides all literacy instruction. District teachers understand that students who struggle with reading will most likely struggle with learning in later grades, so they have collaboratively worked to tighten the “what” in student learning (curriculum) and improve the “how” (instructional methods).

Superintendent Adam Young said the WPCSD is committed to improving outcomes for all of its students.

For more information about the Read by Grade 3 law or the District’s efforts in assisting its students, contact Young at 289-4851.