Freedom School’s ability to engage and motivate students was the main topic of discussion at the Mount Airy Board of Education’s work session Tuesday night.
School Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little told the board the summer reading program grew from 50 students last year to include 17 “Read to Achieve” program third graders for 137 enrolled in the effort this year.
“Our summer interns are the driving force behind this,” said Little. “Their enthusiasm makes it happen.”
Interns Demi Hudson, Josh Smith and Alex Rigney received certificates of recognition for their efforts from the board for their efforts. Hutson told the board she had enjoyed seeing the Freedom School scholars return this year and grow academically. All three, who returned as interns this year, said they were “blown away” at the energy of the new scholars.
“I know a lot of these kids,” said Smith, who is an accounting major. “Three of them are my next-door-neighbors. I would put off entering the workforce when I graduate to do this again next year.”
Read to Achieve teacher Sally Reece told the board all but four third grade students in the program improved enough to test out of the program with students averaging a 13 percent growth in reading goals in the six-week program, with one participant improving two reading levels.
“It (Freedom School combined with Read to Achieve) was one of the most impactful experiences I’ve been involved in my career in education,” said Reece. “They were engaged and motivated. Every single student showed extreme growth. The four that didn’t test out were so close. This was a plan for success not a punishment.”” She told the board the small groups averaging six students to one teacher helped and the four would be starting the school year without the “summer slump” in reading skills.
Coordinator of Student Services Jesse Hiatt told the board two important things that continued at Freedom School this year were participants being happy to attend and the confidence the school gave them. He told the board 112 students were on the roll the first week of the school with an average daily attendance of 93 students.
“Attendance was a concern of ours when we expanded Freedom School but we had good summer attendance,” said Hiatt. “One thing we thought we did better on was our guest readers.” He said the effort is considering making enrichment activities more age appropriate instead of all participants involved in the same activity at the same time.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.