Parental involvement is one of the strongest factors in student achievement, and Hamilton Township is working with parents of first-grade students who participate in their Reading Recovery program to help ensure children get the support they need at home and at school.
Reading Recovery coordinators Kelly Petrucci and Tara Sutton worked with Hamilton Township Education Association’s (HTEA) Pride/FAST Coordinator Jayne Carmen to write a grant that would enable them to welcome parents to the school for an introductory breakfast to explain the reading program and provide them with an opportunity to ask questions and interact with staff. FAST is NJEA’s Family and Schools Together Work for Children program.
Held before the school day begins, most parents are able to squeeze the short meeting in before heading off to their own responsibilities.
For Petrucci and Sutton, this parental commitment is the key to the program, and they are hoping to continue to have open communication with each of the parents.
“Everyone is so busy, but we know that reading is fundamental to leading productive, successful lives,” Petrucci said. “That’s why it was so important to us that we welcome parents with this breakfast to illustrate to them that we see them as our vital partners in this process.”
The Reading Recovery Program has enthusiastic administrative support, particularly from Shaner School Principal Dan Cartwright.
“When children are taught to believe they are readers and writers, and with some guidance, they will reach their goal,” Cartwright said.
In addition to meeting with the parents, the children in the program are provided with books at the beginning of the summer to keep and read. Summer slide is one thing educators worry about over the summer, and some children do not have access to books on their reading level. Teachers have found that for many students, library books are too hard for the average first-grader to identify as appropriate to their level and read on their own.
The HTEA has used its grant money to help combat this barrier by purchasing high interest books on the individual child’s level.
“If we can instill a life-long love of reading, the battle is won!” Petrucci said.
HTEA members often go above and beyond the bell to ensure their students have access to the support and resources they need to succeed.
“Our members do whatever it takes to help our students succeed,” said HTEA President Amy Gold. “The teachers spend their own money to pay for the national Reading Recovery conference to help support the program. While the district helps with travel expenses, the teachers pay for the conference itself. The support from NJEA’s Pride and FAST programs, which helps us to share these programs with our families, is very important to us.”