A little extra cash, a lot of fun go into summer reading institute

Deep Run Elementary uses grant surplus to help bolster struggling readers

June 27, 1999|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

What does an elementary school do with a couple of thousand dollars of leftover grant money?

At Deep Run Elementary School, the answer is: create a summer reading institute to help beginning readers build skills.

"We saw we were going to have about $2,200 in money left over from a grant, and we thought the best way we could use it would be to give some of our students an extra boost," said Deep Run Principal Fran Donaldson.

For the past three years, Deep Run has been one of three Howard County elementary schools receiving extra federal and state poverty funding, about $56,000 a year for Deep Run.

The Elkridge school devoted the money to improving reading, and most has gone to pay for seven part-time reading assistants in one-on-one and small-group tutoring.

The leftover money was enough to create a small reading academy, a free two-week program in which a couple of dozen students are coming to school for 2 1/2 hours of extra help in reading and writing each morning.

"It's kind of fun," said Brittney Beighey, who will be entering third grade in the fall. "I like getting to practice my reading here in school."

All of the students were picked by their teachers for the program. Some are struggling readers; others are at grade level but could use the extra assistance to stay there.

"Not only are we helping the kids, but I think we're also helping their parents know what to do with them the rest of the summer," said kindergarten teacher Roxanne Newman, who is working with about 10 children who will be entering first grade.

"We want to work on the skills, but we want to do it in a fun way, too," she said.

To practice identifying letters and sounds one recent morning, Newman handed out beanbags with letters sewn onto them. The students lined up and had to recite their beanbag's letter and sound before being allowed to toss it into a basket. They then received another beanbag and got back into line for another toss.

In the meantime, for spelling practice, fourth-grade teacher Ivye Pazornik read sentences aloud -- as dictation -- to children who will enter third grade in the fall.

Most managed to write the sentence successfully, though a couple forgot their question marks. After 15 minutes of the hard work, it was time for a trip to Deep Run's computer laboratory for music-filled computer programs.

"I like being here," said 8-year-old Monti Fleming. "Some of this is hard work, but most is pretty fun."

Pub Date: 6/27/99

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