In Rhonda Gajeske’s classroom at Goodyear Elementary School, students learn how to love reading.
Gajeske teaches the Read 180 and System 44 programs, which help struggling readers advance in their abilities.
“This program is for our struggling readers, predominantly significantly below grade level,” she said. “It helps gives them that boost that they need to get to where they need to be successful in the general-ed classrooms.”
Gajeske’s room is a reader’s paradise, with comfortable reading chairs scattered between the desks and books stacked on nearly every surface.
Like in schools around Glynn County, the students at Goodyear Elementary often get the chance to use The News in class, offering them an alternative reading option to explore.
Gajeske said the newspaper offers yet another outlet for readers to engage with a text and connect with a world outside their own.
Every day at Goodyear, Gajeske devotes her time to lifting up struggling readers and showing them how capable they are. At her aid are the Read 180 and System 44 programs. Through the Read 180 program, students are able to read at their own level, complete work using computer software and take reading quizzes online.
“They read books that are on their level, so if it’s a fifth-grader reading at kindergarten (level), they’re reading at their level to be successful and help build them up intrinsically, give them that confidence to stretch their Lexile and read a little bit harder,” she said.
The Read 180 program is designed for students to always work in small-group form, and Gajeske is able to provide extremely individualized attention and help the students boost their reading abilities.
Read 180 is making a huge difference for her students, Gajeske said, and is transforming them into avid readers.
Esavious Lane, a fifth-grader at Goodyear, said Gajeske’s class has helped him see how much fun reading can be. And when he picks up The News in class, he said he knows he will find interesting stories to read.
“Like with the Super Bowl, it tells you what happened,” he said. “So if you don’t watch it on TV, the newspaper tells you what’s going on.”
Alexandra Power, a fourth-grade student, said she loves reading books in Gajeske’s class. She turns to The News to see her family members featured in its pages.
“My uncle was in the newspaper once,” she said. “It was exciting to see him in the newspaper.”
Through the Read 180 program, Gajeske sees students reach their reading potential every day, she said.
“You’ve got to give these kids a chance to succeed, and (Read 180) gives them that,” she said.
Justin Christian, a third grade student, currently leads the school in passing the most Read 180 quizzes.
“I feel like I’m learning a lot,” he said.
When they use The News, Gajeske said students can connect articles to their own lives as well as to the books they’re reading in her class.
“The newspaper gives you that text-to-world connection,” she said. “Instead of just the materials that they’re given, it gives them the opportunity to connect to real-life events and maybe connect those with what they are reading in here and what they’re learning.”
Other teachers interested in an opportunity to begin using newspapers in the classroom can start anytime.
All it takes is a phone call to The News at 265-8320 ext. 356. Summer Whitten would be happy to sign up teachers to get their newspapers twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.