Billingsley offers summer reading sessions

Summer reading: 21 students took advantage of a free reading program offered at Billingsley School on June 16. Two more sessions are planned. (Contributed photos)

Summer reading: 21 students took advantage of a free reading program offered at Billingsley School on June 16. Two more sessions are planned. (Contributed photos)

Summer is a welcome break for students and teachers at local schools, but all that time away from the classroom can have a negative effect—especially for students who have limited access to educational materials away from school.

Teachers at Billingsley School are trying to ensure their students stay sharp over the summer by offering a free reading sessions.

The first two-hour session was held June 16, and sessions are also scheduled for 9-11 a.m. June 30 and July 19—all at the school.

Learning opportunity: Chelsea Cutler, Evan Coburn, Madison Bean and Brylin Tomlin participate in the reading session.

Learning opportunity: Chelsea Cutler, Evan Coburn, Madison Bean and Brylin Tomlin participate in the reading session.

First grade teacher April Willis said the idea started with reading coach Ivy Johnson.

“Some of us teachers jumped on that opportunity because we know a lot of our kids don’t get anything during the summer,” Willis said.

The program is for students entering first grade through students entering sixth grade.

A federally funded enrichment program was offered over the summer as recently as two years ago, but the funding was no longer available, so the teachers formed their own program.

The teachers pay out of pocket for any expenses related to the program, including materials and snacks.

“We just thought it would be the right thing to do for our kids,” Willis said about the program and added that while it may seem insignificant, offering snacks is an important component. “A lot of kids out in this area, you don’t know what they’re eating during the day. At least we can offer them a little something while they’re here.”

Some existing classroom materials, such as iPads, are being used to keep expenses low.

Billingsley first grade teachers planned the first session, which included 21 students and focused on the book “Commotion in the Ocean.”

“I thought that was a pretty good turnout, especially during the summertime when people are on vacation,” Willis said.

Teachers and students read the book, and discussed and participated in activities related to sea creatures and also played math games that taught measuring and lengths.

Second grade teachers will plan the second session, and third grade teachers will plan the July session.

While students and parents were notified about the sessions before school ended in May, Willis said any interested parents can bring their students to a session even if they have not already registered, they would just need to arrive at the school prior to the 9 a.m. start time.

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