Students honor principal by reading

Rick Judd undergoing cancer treatment
By: Kari Hazen, Special to the Loomis News
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Loomis Grammar School students have read 6,711 books in honor of Principal Rick Judd who is undergoing cancer treatment. Students, families and staff wanted to do something for Judd, who is on medical leave for throat cancer treatment. Judd said he just wanted students to read. His desire was that students continue reading so he could see the results when he returned. Judd and the school’s teachers had a shared goal of instilling in their students a love of reading. Parent volunteers created a reading tree in the school office and paper leaves bearing each student’s name and the number and titles of books read are added to the tree weekly. Reading and fostering the reading tree has brought the school together in their support of Judd and has motivated students to build valuable reading skills. Eighth-grade teacher Angie Borgwardt recently asked her class how many had read more books this year. She said hands rose quickly. Dominic Pericin said, “I read four books over the holiday break.” Classmate Justin Petersen said, “I’ve read more this year than I ever thought I would.” Borgwardt said she is proud of her students’ efforts. She challenged her students in August to each read 40 books. She said she is impressed that her students care about reading, and as a class, are working hard to reach the goal. The majority of the school’s teachers participated in a new management system and professional development training in 2010 that was conducted by first-grade teachers Julie Hupp, Jenn Tverberg and Amy Nash. After these trainings, teachers came up with ideas on how to increase reading and create a reading culture in their classrooms. Their goal is to continue to present every student – even reluctant readers – with an opportunity to read during the day. Teachers also meet with students to ensure they understand what they’re reading. Sixth-grade teacher Crystal Call said she is seeing a career-high interest in reading from her students. Kindergarten teacher Nicole Van Stralen said since implementing the new teaching model, her classroom is rich in reading opportunities. Van Stralen said in her 10 years of teaching kindergarten, “I have never seen my students have this kind of success.” She said almost half of her students have learned the list of sight words and have moved on to the first-grade lists. She said, “Most of the students have already met the end of the year reading goal, and are well on their way to meeting the first-grade goals.“ Eighth-grader Ashley Tarabetz keeps a reading log and said she has read 86 books since the first day of school. She said, “My mom has a policy, no TV until 7 p.m. She encourages me to read as she thinks it will make me smarter. She is right, so I read every day from 4 to 7 p.m. and always on the weekends. I’ve worked with my teacher and everyone I know to find books I will like.” Superintendent Gordon Medd said, “Great teachers inspire our students to read, think and challenge themselves academically.” Loomis parent Bridget Daly couldn’t agree more. “My children have so many opportunities to read beyond the recommendations of the state curriculum. From attending the early morning reading program to the recent reading assembly, every teacher works to open doors for my children,” she said. The Loomis staff is hopeful students will continue to grow in all subjects, including reading. With the number of leaves blooming on the reading tree, one thing is sure – Judd will be beaming when he returns to see learning growing and the love of reading flourishing. Editor's note: Kari Hazen is Loomis Grammar School’s Title One Teacher and Interim Principal. READING IS DOWN Less than one-third of 13-year-olds read daily; down 14 percent since 1992. 13-year-olds who read for fun dropped from 35 to 30 percent; for 17-year-olds from 33 to 22 percent. 15- to 24-year-olds spend almost two hours a day watching television, and only seven minutes reading. Sources: “Readicide” by Kelly Gallagher; “Read or Not to Read” (National Endowment for the Arts 2007)