Reading Recovery program helps kids keep up - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Reading Recovery program helps kids keep up

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In the last two decades, thousands of students in Vermont's elementary schools have kept up with their classmates because of a program that started in New Zealand.

To this day, the reading recovery program is paying off for kids at Lyndon Town School.

There are 444 students at the K-8 consolidated school and 122 staff members.

Lyndon Town Schools budget this school year is more than a $11.5 million.

It's not unusual to find Braden Anderson reading on his own these days.

"It's really amazing just to find out what's in the book and what's in the next series. It's just amazing!" he says.

This fourth grader loves reading about real life game wardens, but there was a time when reading was a struggle.

"I just felt left out because I saw all the other kids reading and I really wanted to read too," he says.

Just like these kindergardeners, Braden worked in a small group with Robyn Jacob when he first came to Lyndon Town School. His mom was grateful for the extra help for her son because she had struggled in school too.

"I thought it was a good thing because they didn't have the program when I was in school. It was nice that they caught it early and were able to help him," says Stephanie Anderson.

Literary Interventionist Robyn Jacob knows how Stephanie feels.

"For me it was personal to begin with because my daughter was a reading recovery student and so I just saw how powerful it was and I saw how dedicated and knowledgeable her reading recovery teacher was. So as soon as I had the chance to get the training I jumped on it," she says.

Her daughter Josephine is 21 now. She was one of the first students to go through the program in the Northeast Kingdom after Susan Lynaugh introduced it here.

"Reading Recovery program originated in New Zealand and I was one of the first people in Vermont that was sent by state sponsor to go get training," Lynaugh says.

Susan was trained by New Zealanders at the University of Illinois. At the time, in the early 90s, New Zealand had the highest rate of literacy in the world.

"The theory is that reading is complex," she says. "We integrate reading, writing, phonics, phonological awareness, fluency, comprehension. A broad spectrum of approaches that we train our teachers in and teach them to observe what children are doing and what their strengths are and help them use those strengths to work on the needs. Observation is key."

Observation is also key when it comes to training for reading recovery Specialists like Lisa Surridge

"I did the lesson like I did every other day, but on the other side of the mirror, little did she know, my instructors and my collegues were watching and critiquing and checking and then they're able to give me feedback about how I can better improve myself," she says.

The principal says three teachers are fully trained in reading recovery, but other teachers have gone through some of the training too.

"It's part of our system, we want all of our teachers to have a depth of knowledge of how literacy develops in students so they can diagnose when things aren't going right for a child and provide the just right instruction to move them on," says Lyndon Town School Principal Amy Gale.

That's something Jasmine Barrett's parents say has happened for their daughter.

"She is now taking on books that are out of her age group now. She still wants to test herself on her own, which is really again a testament to her confidence and what she has been able to achieve through this program," says Ben Warstler.

Speaking of achievements, here's what Braden told me about how he felt once he could read.

"Really happy! Because I was really excited when I first got to read because I wasn't that different anymore. Everybody else read. I read too!" he says.

Susan Lynaugh tells us that the reading recovery program has helped nearly 7,000 students in 42 schools in the area she covers from from Newport to White River Junction to Barre.

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