A reading specialist from Gainesville, Florida traveled to the four Storm Lake elementary schools Monday and Tuesday in order to help give advice to teachers and peer professionals about the Reading Rescue program currently underway in the Storm Lake school system.
Belinda Nix, the Director of Programs for Literacy Trust, Inc., a non-profit reading service based in Florida, made her second visit to Storm Lake in 2001, as she also came to the city last March.
Nix, who also works with schools in Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York City, said she was in Storm Lake to help teachers learn new ways to aid the progress of students who may have trouble with reading skills.
A program to help rescue struggling readers, Nix said the Reading Rescue system is targeted primarily toward assisting students in first grade.
"Studies have shown that the best time to help children with reading is when they are in first grade, and that's what we're trying to do," Nix said. "Third or fourth grade is really almost too late, because it becomes much harder to get them the help they really need later on. That's why we're focusing our attention on first grade."
Reading Rescue has been in Storm Lake for three years, and Pat Botine, the director of the SL program, said it has had a positive impact on students at North, South, East and West.
"I think it's been a success so far," Botine said. "I think it's been very beneficial for our students here."
Nix was able to sit in and observe the different teachers and peer professionals at each of the four elementaries, and she was able to tell them what they were doing right and what they could do better in the future.
"Since I travel to so many states, I've been able to observe a lot of teachers and peer professionals, and most of them are doing the same things," Nix said. "They're making a lot of the same mistakes, but they're also doing a lot of things correctly as well. I'm trying to help them do away with those mistakes and strengthen those positives even more."
Nix will share her thoughts and give advice to teachers, peer professionals and administrators from all four schools in a large-group training session this afternoon at 3:30 at West Elementary.