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Reading has never been so much fun
Ordway students enjoy the weekly visits of seniors with Rockn Rolln books in tow.
On Mondays, the second-graders at Ordway School get to be Rockn Rolln Readers.
Its not a day when they get to crank the classroom stereo and boogie with their books.
Its a slice of time when second-graders get to pick a favorite story and read it aloud to a special person usually a senior citizen who shows up every week, eager to listen.
The Rockn Rolln Reader program so named by the students because the books are rolled into class on a cart is being hailed by Ordway officials and teachers as a remarkable success, not only for giving budding readers the confidence to read aloud, but as a way to learn respect and acceptance of themselves and others.
Its fantastic, said Ordway second-grade teacher Jennifer Burlingame. Its another opportunity for them to read one-on-one, and I love the age difference. Its special. They look forward to it every week.
And the grandparents are so sweet. They really help the kids along.
Ordway Principal Glen Robbins said while there is no empirical evidence on the programs impact, it has unquestionably boosted student enthusiasm for reading, an outcome worth celebrating.
It started last spring, and its been pretty amazing, Robbins said. We just see the kids sparkle, they are so eager to read.
Ordway now hopes to launch a similar program to help children with math skills, he said.
The Ordway program involves 20 volunteers, who make the rounds to three second-grade classrooms with a total of 70 students.
The program was developed by the schools advisory site council of parents and teachers last year, after they witnessed the success of a similar program in Poulsbo.
Parent Karen Sachs recruited volunteers for Rockn Rolln readers from the Kiwanis Club, the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center, and retired teachers in the community.
While the reading ability among the students ranges from those who cant read at all, to those who are reading at the seventh-grade level, the program offers non-judgmental encouragement for the children no matter where theyre at, proponents say.
We try to have them pick something they can read and feel good about, said teacher Julia Graves. We take them where they are and move them forward. They tell us, this is the best time Ive ever had reading.
Some of the volunteers suspect that the kids enjoy it because they are not being judged or graded. This is reading for absolute pleasure, in the company of someone who looks like a grandparent, they say.
They are adorable and so thrilled to have someone come in every week, said volunteer Alice Frost. Its important for them to know that people, other than their parents and their teachers, care about them. Were just there to listen. I had tears in my eyes when I had to say goodbye to my kids last year, and they did, too.
This is something I would rather do than almost anything else.
The volunteers say they see the students making definite progress, and the children say they look forward to their Monday visitors.
I like how we get to experience books with them, said Kim Williams, age 7. Its really kind of cool because they can teach us something.
Plus, she confided, her reading buddy is really funny.
Emma Spickard, age 7, said she has learned new reading skills: Its a real joy to read out loud to someone who is really listening. Im an only child, so I usually read to myself. This has taught me to read aloud, to use my voice more.
Seven-year-old Nick Stahl, whos a fan of The Magic Treehouse series, said he thinks its neat reading to grownups, especially since you get to choose which books you will read to them.
The volunteers say its wonderful to run into the children at the grocery store, the library or downtown.
What has surprised me is the openess of the children and their willingness to read to a stranger, said volunteer Joan Pratt, who has a second-grade grandson at Ordway. They are very warm and really eager to learn.
They are so proud and so open, and its just terrific.