The following are excerpts from a recent Parkersburg (W.Va.) News and Sentinel article highlighting how two schools in Gilmer County, W.Va., are benefiting from the No Child Left Behind Reading First Program:
"Gilmer County teachers are working to put $618,000 in reading funds to good use with the hope of increasing reading test scores at Sand Fork and Normantown elementary schools. The two Gilmer County schools were selected by the state this year to receive $206,000 for the next three years as part of the Reading First Project, said director Lesa Hines. 'I think this can make a difference in Gilmer County,' she said. 'I think the biggest task will be getting it set up and getting trained. Once we're in the classroom with the students, that is going to be the benefit. That's what we're working for. The teachers are going to put a lot of time and learning into this but it's going to be worth it.'
"Parents and students will realize the grant's worth soon when 2,400 new books are placed on shelves inside the two schools' kindergarten through third-grade classrooms. Each class will receive 100 books on grade level, 100 below level and another 100 above level.
"The grant also adds a reading mentor teaching position at each school and mandates that teachers provide an extended, uninterrupted reading block for students, Hines said. 'It's just intense teaching of the skills they need to read,' she said. 'They need to be reading on grade level by fourth grade. If they miss those early skills it is very difficult to go back and pick them up.' The grant also provides funding to hire two reading mentor teachers. One will be placed at Normantown, while the other is placed in Sand Fork. Those teachers will help provide individual reading assistance and train teachers.
"Sharon Radabaugh, second-grade teacher at Sand Fork, applauds the program. 'Reading is required with everything. In order to exist in life you have to read to be successful,' she said. 'If reading does not become comfortable for them by third grade it's just a struggle for them the rest of their life.'"
"'We'll have all kinds of extra books,' Radabaugh said. 'It will open up a whole new world for them. They will be able to learn things outside of central West Virginia and may even realize what they want to grow up to be professionally.'"
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