Archived Story

Reading gets personal

Published 5:50pm Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two Kincheloe Elementary School fourth-graders shared their success stories about the Reading Recovery program Thursday to highlight how influential and important it is to the academic success of struggling students.

Allie Conner, a fourth grade student at Kincheloe Elementary School, spoke at Rotary Thursday with her classmate Luke Whitaker, left, and her mom, Dept. Supt. Dawn Conner, about how the Reading Recovery program helped improve their reading and writing levels after one-on-one sessions. Leader photo/ALY GIBSON

During the regular meeting of Dowagiac’s Rotary Club Thursday afternoon, Supt. Mark Daniel and Deputy Supt. Dawn Conner presented the district’s Reading Recovery teacher leader Katrina Daiga and two of her former program students to add a personal touch to how Reading Recovery works for Dowagiac kids. Conner’s daughter Allie was also joined by her classmate Luke Whitaker and his mom, Emily.

“This really is the building block for years to come in our district,” Daniel said of the program. “It is absolutely critical that every child knows how to read by the third grade.”

The program allows students in the lowest 20 percent of test scoring to receive one-on-one guidance from trained Reading Recovery teachers, building on what they already know and working from there. Daiga reported Thursday that with all district elementary schools being fully implemented in the program and recently welcoming Michigan’s 13th site for training, Dowagiac Union Schools currently has 10 teachers training with the program.

“I hope to say in three years that every student in Dowagiac will be reading at grade level,” Conner said Thursday. “These kids have real names, they’re real kids in our schools who were struggling to read or write.”

Allie spoke first to Rotarians, explaining how much the program helped her improve skills she already had.

“I didn’t know how to read very good,” Allie said. “I would stay in during recess and worked everyday in the summer to practice reading and now I’m reading really good.”

Conner said that Allie’s use of Reading Recovery improved her academics enough to see a 75 percent point increase on her test scores.

Whitaker’s mother Emily also spoke to how much the program affected their daily routine at home and what she changed as a parent to help Whitaker succeed.

“I had heard the statistics that third-graders who can’t read were more likely to go to jail,” Emily said. “I didn’t want that for my son … they came to me with the program and I used it with him and also my younger son.”

Emily said she could see major improvements and now Whitaker reads multiple books at a time.

“I could not read a chapter book,” Whitaker read from a paper he wrote. “I’ve gotten better because Reading Recovery was helping me.”

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