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Local schools, district benefit from literacy funds

50K-plus to be spread amongst schools



In the hallways of Myrtle Philip Elementary School a primary student reads to a senior citizen. Further down the hall another student reads to a young barista. The adult volunteers are part of a province-wide initiative to increase literacy skills amongst public and independent schools.

Eighty-three schools from 34 B.C. districts applied for School Improvement Excellence Awards by submitting a proposal to a four-member panel sponsored by the University of British Columbia. Myrtle Philip, for the second year in a row, received $3,000 to fund its reading program, the provincial government announced last week. Only one in four of the 60 schools received monies for a second year from the $180,000 fund.

Louise St. Jacques discusses her drawing with dad Andre while Jessica Gerard works with mom Gina, along with other primary students as part of Family Literacy Day activities at Myrtle Philip Elementary School. Photo by Ron Albertin

Over 50 volunteers work with Myrtle Philip students on their reading. Teachers choose students to take part in the program, reading to an adult who then times their reading and shows them their improvement as they progress.

“It’s wonderful to see a child sitting and reading one-on-one with an adult - they make such an improvement and just leave beaming,” said Ron Albertin, Myrtle Philip principal.

In addition to paying for a program coordinator, some of the funding also went to host local author, Sheree Blanch who read on Family Literacy Day, January 27, from her book Bufo the Toad, to primary students while projecting illustrations from the book on a wall. Parents invited to the reading returned to classrooms to work further with students on book projects.

Last week provincial ministry of education also announced Howe Sound school district received $51,635, some of which will go toward an assessment program that helps grades four – nine teachers refine reading lesson strategies. The funding allows a District Assessment Reading Team to compare data they collect within schools with foundation skills assessment data, which then gives teachers an opportunity to adjust their teaching to accommodate student needs.

Some of the funds will also go toward school-specific projects, like the Read Well program, a story series for first graders with a graduated approach to reading. “It starts with playing with sound, then links sounds to symbols, then takes those sub-skills and teaches them with contextually rich stories,” said Pius Ryan, the district’s director of instruction.

“This literacy funding gives teachers monies to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” Ryan said. “We could use the grant every year.”

Grade four students from Myrtle Philip Elementary School dogsledding with Cougar Mountain staff on Family Literacy Day. The class took the trip as research to coincide with The Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, a book about dog sledding they have been reading in class. Photo by Craig Smith

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