Basalt Elementary kids hit the books | AspenTimes.com

Basalt Elementary kids hit the books

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT ” Basalt Elementary School principal Suzanne Wheeler-Del Piccolo knows the importance reading plays in the development of young students.

That’s why she has dedicated a great deal of her time writing grant proposals and doing research ” in order to get her students the best reading help available through the Read to Achieve Program. And now her school has two full-time reading tutors to help her students develop their reading skills. “I’m just thrilled,” Wheeler-Del Piccolo said. “It allows us to offer so much more instructional time for the kids that need it.”

The school has received a $102,000 grant for the Read to Achieve program. Those funds, along with additional money from the federal government, provide salaries for the in-school tutors and additional funding for six Basalt teachers who participate in an after-school reading program at the school.

“It’s one step beyond their regular teaching instruction, and this gives them time to prepare and plan instruction for the students,” Wheeler-Del Piccolo said.

But that’s not all. The funds also purchase instructional books that help teachers develop proven reading strategies. The school has been a part of the program for the past six years. Each grant approval is a three-year commitment between the state’s board of education and the school. Each year, Basalt Elementary has to show that 65 percent of students in the program are reading at their current grade level.

Currently, the school has about 105 students in two reading programs. About 60 are in the after-school Star program and another 45 students are helped during the day by the two reading tutors through Read to Achieve, Wheeler-Del Piccolo said. But students needing more instruction may also be active in both programs.

Recommended Stories For You

“The Star program has been very successful,” she said. “We have many on the wait list for that program. We have more interest than we are capable of maintaining, but this grant will help us reach the other children that need extra instruction.”

The Read to Achieve program was first designed to accommodate second and third grades specifically. But the state recently expanded the program to include kindergarten and first grades as well, as research indicates kids who aren’t reading at their grade level have a better chance of catching up if the school can get them the added instruction earlier.

And that is exactly what Wheeler-Del Piccolo hopes to accomplish.

“It really benefits all the kids that need more reading instruction,” she said. “It’s all for the children.”