A $ 60,000 Neosho R5 Charitable Foundation Grant Supports Distr - KOAM TV 7

A $ 60,000 Neosho R5 Charitable Foundation Grant Supports District Literacy Program.


The Neosho R5 Charitable Foundation put sixty thousand dollars into the district's new way of helping students become better readers and writers.

When Chris Brown hollers campfire in his South Elementary classroom, third graders come running. The group reading time is actually when he models reading strategies that students will apply to books they’re reading on their own. While another teacher works with a small group of kids on an opinion writing assignment. Both are part of the Partnership in Comprehensive Literacy.

Brown said, "This way I can meet all the needs of my students.  And not just you know hoping they catch it and we move on, its more individualized. And that’s what the key is, cause every child is different and learns differently."

Brown can get ideas for helping students who are struggling from literacy coach BJ Baum. She and two others received specialized training through grant funding. Teachers can get packs of six books to target a reading problem area from the literacy library created with grant funds and more donated books from Scholastic. Some books are designed to target reading problems. Baum described one pack for kindergarten students, “Teaching their sight words, it  has controlled vocabulary and it’s on the level of the kids. "

The  literacy library  at South elementary  school is a model of what’s to come to all elementary schools in Neosho and the grant money is helping them buy shelving, crates, books and more. Which becomes a giant toolbox for teachers.  

Brown said, "Having those resources that are provided means I don’t have to go out finding those things. It means I can spend my time with my kids and working with them. And it really cuts down the preparation time for me."

Christine Rhoades, with the foundation said, "In terms of allowing the teacher to grow with the students, it gives them more information about where each student is,  what they need and how to get them caught  up to reach the next level."

All say its bringing  success. Brown bragged, "It has made a difference in my students because they’re more engaged. They are better thinkers, better writers and better readers." 

BJ Baum, the literacy coach at South said, "We identify the strengths and weaknesses and build on those and we're bridging that gap. Our data is incredible.  We're bridging that gap between. The kids who are at risk are making those gains from below basic to basic to proficient."

Rhoades said that’s money well spent. "I’d rather  have money in the hands of our students and educators in terms of materials  than in our bank account."
     The literacy coaches take eighteen college hours of specialized training at the University of Arkansas. Three of the district's five elementary schools have coaches now. The district plans to add two more to the others next year.


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