Davie teachers take A+ training

Published 8:46 am Thursday, June 29, 2017

For two days last week, teachers became the students as 29 Davie County educators learned creative new ways to teach reading, a skill that is fundamental for success in school as well as in life.  This A+ Schools training was in preparation for Davie’s summer Read to Achieve Camp designed to help third graders who have failed to meet state requirements in reading to advance to the fourth grade.  The camp also includes struggling first and second graders who demonstrated the potential of reaching grade-level proficiency in reading with extra help in the summer, as mandated by the N.C. Department of Instruction. This intensive four-week camp began on Monday, June 26.  The A+Schools of North Carolina Program combines interdisciplinary teaching and daily arts instruction, offering children opportunities to develop creative, innovative ways of thinking, learning and showing what they know.  This is the fourth year Davie County’s successful Read to Achieve Camp, partially funded by the Mebane Foundation, will employ this holistic approach to reading. The camp’s attendees will actively learn through visual arts, dance, drama, music and creative writing, in addition to tailored instruction through Hill Center Reading sessions and small group literacy circles.  Children learn by example, so the camp’s teachers participated in seminars on storytelling, film reading, creative movement, and songwriting, all in preparation to use the arts to promote growth in the children’s reading mastery. Raymonda Shelton, instructional coach at William R. Davie Elementary, who serves as the Read to Achieve Camp’s curriculum coordinator said: “The excitement at this training is palpable. Each year we come back almost thinking, ‘Ok, we’ve almost got this thing planned. We will do a lot of the same things we did last year,’ but never do we do everything the same.”  “We always get something amazing from this training and go back and tweak things. We realize that we can make it better, we can do more, we can push harder. I think that is why our success has risen each year. We get more excited and understand the possibilities even more. It’s just an awesome experience,” Shelton said.  “I had students who attended the camp last year and loved it, so I wanted to be a part of it this summer,” said Jennie Kimel, while painting a Kamishibai box which is used in Japanese storytelling. Kimel, who just completed her second year as a first grade teacher at William R. Davie, is one of the five new teachers to the camp this year. “I also knew the camp followed the A+ model and I wanted to gain that training as well as be a part of such a positive program.”  While most of their colleagues are enjoying a well-deserved break, many of these devoted educators consider the camp to be the highlight of their year.  “I love, love, love the camp,” said third-year camp instructor, Erin Penley, who teaches music at Cooleemee and Pinebrook. “A lot of times these kids come to this program feeling defeated in their reading skills. We get to rejuvenate their love of reading by helping them to experience reading in a fun new way.”  “I also love the professional collaboration we get to experience that we don’t usually have time for during the regular school year,” she said. Lauren Rieth, lead visual arts teacher for Davie County Schools and a fourth-year camp veteran is so passionate about the camp, she scheduled her retirement date for August so that she could participate at least one more year.  “I can’t think of a better way to end my teaching career than this vital program,” she said. “I will enter retirement with my heart singing.”