Alpena reading corps program expanding

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Keely Roznowski, an interventionist with the Michigan Reading Corps, reads with Besser Elementary School second-grader Nolan Bays on Thursday.

ALPENA — Alpena Public Schools is expanding its reading corps program for lower elementary students next school year.

The Michigan Education Corps program — which is utlilized by Besser, Ella White, and Hinks elementaries this school year — will be expanded to Lincoln, Sanborn, and Wilson elementaries next school year. The program is looking for eight reading interventionists — one to be placed at each elementary school and two for preschool — to work with preschool through third grade students next school year on their reading skills.

The program helps students to ensure that each one has a chance to succeed and is proficient in reading. The reading interventionist spends 20 minutes with each student who is stuggling with reading.

Holly Windram, Corps executive director, said if students aren’t reading by third grade, they won’t be on track for success. She said kids should be learning to read from preschool to third grade, and the reading interventionist helps them stay on track.

“If they don’t have those critical skills, then they’re going to be struggling,” Windram said.

Meaghan Black, an internal coach at Besser, said the confidence in students goes up after they meet with the interventionist. An internal coach is a member of the school who works with the reading interventionist.

“They’re really making a connection and that connection is really giving them the understanding that ‘I can do this, I can write down these words, I can attack these words’ and they’re really growing that way,” Black said.

Expanding the program will give students at all Alpena elementaries the opportunity to read proficiently when they start fourth grade. Windram said Alpena will be impacted greatly with this expansion.

Besser Principal Stephanie Hitchcock said the data shared by MEC shows that the reading interventionists have been positively helping students. Seventy-five percent of kindergarten through third grade students who receive reading intervention at Besser, Ella White, and Hinks are meeting or exceeding their grade level growth.

“We’re seeing our kids flying high with this particular intervention,” Hitchcock said. “It’s really exciting that we have this in place here at Besser and I hope that other students can benefit from it as well.”

Hitchcock said the students at Lincoln, Sanborn, and Wilson will see tremendous growth from the program next year.

Natalie Gentry, an internal coach at Ella White, said the students spending time with the reading interventionists has made a huge difference for them.

Reading Corps tutors complete one year of national service through AmeriCorps. With Alpena expanding its program to all elementaries, MEC is looking for people who are interested in working with preschool through third grade students on their reading skills.

People can visit if they are interested in becoming a Reading Corps tutor with Alpena.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.