O.P. Earle wins S.C. reading award

Published 5:56 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Two Spartanburg District One schools, O.P. Earle Elementary in Landrum and T.E. Mabry Middle School in Inman, recently received honors for their efforts to encourage regular reading habits in their students. Shown are, left to right: T.E. Mabry Middle Principal Marsha Clark, District One Superintendent Dr. Ron Garner and O.P. Earle Elementary Principal Nita High. (photo submitted)

When first-graders in Landrum step into their P.E. classes they know not only their arms and legs will get a workout, but so will their eyes and minds.
Faculty and staff at O.P. Earle Elementary were honored recently by having the school named a S.C. Honor Reading School for the work they’ve done to immerse students in reading throughout all aspects of their day, whether it’s in gym, music or math.
“We are truly a ‘student-centered school’ and stress the importance of literacy,” Principal Nita High said. “Our teachers and staff are committed to ensuring that all children are immersed with a literacy-rich environment in order to instill the love of reading for a lifetime.”
The South Carolina International Reading Association selects just two schools from the state each year to be named Honor Reading Schools – this year those schools were O.P. Earle and T.E. Mabry Middle in Inman.
To be considered for the honor, schools must have a balanced approach to reading instruction, have active parent and community involvement, emphasize reading throughout their curriculum, provide early intervention for struggling readers and encourage students to have a desire to read among other things.
High said O.P. Earle allocated a noticeable portion of its budget to assisting teachers in stocking their in-classroom libraries. She said this allows students more freedom in reading. When students are writing stories they can grab books and reference or mimic a professional author’s style or they can read independently as the teacher works one-on-one with students who need more help.
Not all kids pick up reading easily. This is why High said teachers make a point of giving individualized or small group attention to those students who might be struggling.
Faculty also make a point of portraying reading as an enjoyable hobby and not just a task you have to do to get a good grade, High said.
A blow-up photo of Principal High’s dog Opey also encourages reading in a technological sense by inviting students to read his online blog with their parents.
Also a weekly program incorporates PAWS, or Principal’s Awesome Writing Spot. This program prompts students to write their own short stories and then read them aloud. The students are videotaped reading their stories and can then be seen by their peers doing so on the school’s TVs.
When students go to PE the teacher often pulls out a big book related to exercise.
“We try to help those teachers select or locate books that are a part of their content and keep those books in their classroom,” High said. “We want children to realize that reading permeates their day.”

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