Program aimed at Washington County students who need literacy help
A new program at Pangborn and Paramount elementary schools is looking to close literacy gaps with some of Washington County’s youngest students.
Called Super Readers, the mentoring program matches volunteers with kindergarten and first-graders who need extra help getting up to speed with their reading skills.
Around 25 volunteers took part in training Monday and Tuesday, according to WCPS Education Foundation Executive Director Christina Williams. She said one more training session likely will take place before the launch in mid-October.
“We decided in June, at the end of our board retreat, that we wanted to do something with an elementary reading initiative,” Williams said.
Paramount Principal Laura Barnes and Pangborn Principal Eric Meredith, both foundation board members, volunteered their schools to pilot the program. Williams said the hope is to expand to more elementary schools in the county.
Super Readers volunteers sign up for one-hour slots during the school day to work one on one with students considered to be behind in reading, recording their progress following each session. Each lesson lasts 30 minutes.
“It’s really up to the teacher to identify, ‘Does this student need help? If so, what level of help do they need and who’s the most urgent?’” Williams said.
The program uses Stepping Stones and Sound Partners research-based tutoring material, in which nursery rhymes introduce each activity. They require listening and repetition by the student.
Lura Hanks, WCPS’ supervisor of English language arts and social studies, said at Tuesday’s training session at Pangborn that the idea is to get students to understand “print has a message” and associate printed letters with sounds.
She said Super Readers is not about testing children, but helping them fully understand the basics of associating sounds and print.
WCPS provided the funding for the Super Readers material and training thanks to a $2 million Striving Readers’ Comprehensive Literacy Grant from the Maryland State Department of Education. The same grant was used to purchase 50 new books apiece at the beginning of the year for 950-plus pre-K students.