Teachers get reading grants
By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / February 9, 1998
RESERVE – Several teachers in St. John the Baptist Parish have beenspending their extra hours writing grants to fund special programs thatwill help students learn and retain knowledge.
Most recently, two teachers at Garyville/Mt. Airy Math and Science MagnetSchool have written LEARN subgrants that won money for them toimplement their projects in the classroom.Kelly Jenkins will get $960 for her proposal called “Developing anExtended and Expanded Reading Program,” and Ana Martinez will receive$999.31 for her grant titled “Reading is Fun.”
Jenkins’ grant is to get more novel reading in the upper grades and will beused mostly to purchase books, she said.”As a teacher of 12 years, the best way to get reading taught in theclassroom is to get them to read for an extended period of time,” Jenkinssaid.
Martinez’s grant is for first- and second-graders and mostly targetsphonics skills.
Martinez explained that one of the biggest reasons reading test scores aredown is because the students can’t understand what they are reading wellenough to retell the story. “The kids don’t have enough backgroundinformation before they read,” she said. “They can’t understand thewords.”
Besides teacher subgrants there are other things that are beingimplemented in the schools to improve reading skills, such as AcceleratedReader, Project Read and Land of the Letter People, Stephenie Watkins,Head Start director, said. She added that St. John Parish received$264,000 from the state “to revamp the entire reading program.”
With these programs, students begin to read early on, which is veryimportant, experts say.
“It is critical that we get these children to read before third grade,”Jenkins said. “And we need to make sure that they can read before we hitthem with these tests.”
Chris Donaldson, associate superintendent, commended the teachers on thelong hours they spent writing their grants. “Writing a grant is not easy,”he said. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort.”But Jenkins doesn’t mind. “I approach it like a sport,” she said. “It’s fun tomanipulate the language and get a cash prize at the end.”
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