Manassas Journal Messenger 02-16-01


‘fun’ in reading fundamentals: Tyler Elementary School’s Family Literacy

Night brings the classroom into the home


Emily Kuhl



GAINESVILLE – Reading is not a problem for the students at Tyler Elementary

School in Gainesville. In fact, school librarian Nancy Thaete said an average

of about 300 books are checked out each day – with only 523 students attending

the school.

“I don’t think any of us went into literacy night thinking it was

addressing a problem,” she said.

Instead, Family Literacy Night on Thursday was designed to encourage

and further the students’ ever-growing interest in reading. It was the first

program of its kind the faculty at Tyler had planned, and it was, by all

accounts, a success.

“We just want to thank you for making the effort to be here,”

said Linda Kurrus, the school’s reading specialist, addressing nearly 70

families. “You’re making an impression just by being here, because

you’re the most important teacher your child will ever have.”

Literacy Night became the brainchild of Kurrus nearly three years ago.

A 20-year veteran of teaching, her extensive training in reading garnered

her a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins and a wealth of ideas to bring

to school. She collaborated with Thaete, Tyler’s principal Jewell Moore

and other teachers to help, “build a partnership between home and school.”

Kurrus and her co-workers settled on developing a theme night when parents

could come to school and interact with their children, read together and

celebrate literacy.

“But it also provides an opportunity for parents to sit in and

ask questions,” Kurrus added, which is why the night included several

20-minute workshops. Parents selected two workshops from a group of four,

each designed to teach reading techniques with parent-child interaction;

and one workshop from a group of two, each focusing primarily on talking

to parents and discussing the library, reading sources and strategies for

improving reading skills.

Among the sessions offered was Fables and Fairy Tales by fifth-grade

teachers Jan Davis and Anita Wade. Parents and children read together and

participated in hands-on craft activities while discussing the stories.

“One of the things kids have to do in fifth grade is compare and

contrast,” said Davis. “The nice thing about fairy tales is you

have ones from all over the world that are similar, but with different endings.”

Meanwhile, fourth-grade teacher Becca Nemerow and third-grade teacher

Sharmin Watters conducted Supercalifragilistic Stations – a workshop emphasizing

literacy circles and guided reading.

Watters said the stations would give the parents a chance to see how

their children were learning reading skills in school, as well as hints

to help at home.

“These are things you can do with them, questions you can ask them

to make sure they’re processing what they’re reading,” added Nemerow.

In the cafeteria, Kurrus conducted Bright Ideas for Reading, a workshop

for parents to teach strategies to improve their child’s reading. While

the parents were learning some lessons of their own, children were scattered

at tables, coloring and drawing pictures of their favorite literary characters,

their favorite books and creating Do Not Disturb signs to hang on their

bedroom door while they’re reading at night.

Kurrus said the night would not only enhance good habits in avid readers,

but hopefully reach out to children who needed more encouragement – which

is where parents play a major role.

“It models for the children, that the parents show it’s important

to them and that they care about reading,” she said.

“Children learn what they live,” said Thaete, “and they

learn by what is modeled. The more parents learn about that as a responsibility

and how much power that has over their children … it’s empowering.”

·Contact Emily Kuhl at [email protected]



our e-mail list

| Contact Us



Similar Posts