September 5, 2008

Getting Students to Read All About It “Everyone Reads” is the Goal for Teachers and Administrators at Montclair Elementary.


At Montclair Elementary, getting called to the principal's office this year is not necessarily a bad thing.

As part of a schoolwide reading initiative called "Everyone Reads," Principal Bill Miller and Assistant Principal Tracy McLaughlin will spend time reading in their offices with each of Montclair's 582 students.

"We're going to sit down and we're going to read," Miller told students at the school's early morning flag-raising ceremony Friday.

At the ceremony, Miller, McLaughlin, teachers and most students wore their new "Everyone Reads" T-shirts, provided free by the school's Parent-Faculty Association.

"The whole idea is to have a great time reading," Miller said. "We want you to be fired up about reading."

Students who get the most fired up get to spend some up-close and personal time with the Orange Park Fire Department.

Chief Ty Silcox, the town fire marshal and firefighter/EMTs visited the flag raising to kick off a companion reading program to "Everyone Reads." Starting Tuesday of this week, students will have a two-week period to read as much as they can, recording the time as they go, said Silcox.

"Read as any minutes as you can and if you read the most minutes in your class we've got a big surprise," he said.

Grade-level winners will receive gift certificates and a backpack with the Orange Park Fire Department emblem. And that's not all, he said, pointing to a fire truck the crew brought to the ceremony.

"See that big red fire truck? Would you like to ride to school on that?" he said.

Students responded with a rousing "YES!" Principal Miller said he gets to ride the truck as well.

"I read every single day. Your teachers read every single day," he said. 'Everyone reads, everyone ... at Montclair Elementary."

For Silcox and his crew, the Montclair visit is the latest entry in the department's mission to be more visible and accessible to residents. The reading program is also being offered at Grove Park Elementary. Also, firefighters are reading books to children at the Orange Park library and also hope to read to students at Lighthouse Learning Center.READING IN CLAY COUNTY SCHOOLSReading is a core part of student learning in Clay County schools, beginning with learning how to read in kindergarten through the elementary grades, junior high and high school, said Sharon Chapman, the school district's assistant supervisor of instruction.Many schools help the process with initiatives that encourage students to make reading a habit, she said."There is definitely a focus on reading. Almost every school in the district has some form of motivational reading program," Chapman said. "The more a child reads, the better reader a child becomes ... It benefits in all [curriculum] areas. To be successful, you have to be able to read."She urged parents to read to their children at home and set an example by reading themselves.Here are some Web site with tips on encouraging reading: (Reading is Fundamental, the nation's largest children's literacy organization); (Florida Department of Education); or readingtips (the U.S. Department of Education).Also, the Clay County public library system has storytimes for children, book clubs for adults and other activities that promote reading. Library cards are free to Clay County residents and property owners. A card issued at any Clay library or the bookmobile is valid at all locations. Cards for children under the age of 14 require a parent's signature. In addition, Clay residents have free reciprocal borrowing privileges at Alachua, Bradford, Putnam and St. Johns county libraries. For more information, go to or call 278-3720.

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