Learning through reading

Published 1:04 am Sunday, March 29, 2009

Maplesville resident Gina Lynn Riley knows there is more to reading that just learning how to read. It’s just as important for students to know how to read for learning.

“It’s not enough for students to know how to read. They must also read to learn,” she said. “Below fourth grade, we are teaching our students how to read, but we haven’t been doing as good of a job teaching students how to comprehend what they’re reading so they can learn.”

Riley is an Alabama Reading Initiative Secondary Regional Literacy Coach for the state. She works with grades 4-12 in West Alabama schools to help the teachers find better ways for students to learn.

In these grades, she isn’t just working with reading or English teachers only; she actually works with all subjects because she’s trying to find ways for students to learn by reading.

“It’s making a connection,” she said. “I want to help teachers find a way for their students to make a connection between reading and the subject matter.”

Riley has been married to her husband, Glen, for 17 years, and they have two boys, ages 13 and 8.

Riley didn’t start out being a reading coach in education. She graduated from the University of Montevallo in December 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education and earned a master’s degree six months later.

She was a first grade teacher at Maplesville School from 1987 to 2004 except for a five-month period when she was a second grade teacher. In 2004, she was offered an opportunity to the school’s K-3 ARI literacy coach. After praying about the job, she took the job and that later paved the way for her to become a regional literacy coach.

Her philosophy in education comes from two quotes:

“The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who cannot learn.” Alvin Toffler

“A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell, where his influence stops.” Henry Brooks Adams.

Some of the influences of her life include her brother Greg who taught her to have determination and her mother who influenced her to do her best at whatever she attempted.

Riley was also influenced by former Maplesville Principal George Walker and Myra Davis.

“They influenced my educational experiences and shaped me into an educator,” Riley said.