By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — Guided reading has been a piece of the reading curriculum for elementary school students in the Wawasee Community School Corporation for about the last three years. How that element works and has been effective was part of a report given during the regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee School Board Tuesday evening, April 20, in Syracuse.
Lora Bieghler, Title I reading specialist, gave the report to the school board. She noted guided reading is one piece within small group reading and “we found it needed to be tightened up.” It is a formula used by elementary school teachers and involves 30 minutes of a teacher sitting down with a group of two to six students who are reading at their instructional level.
The teacher introduces the book, then the kids read it and at the end is a discussion time which Bieghler said students have said is important to them. “It’s not rocket science,” she said of guided reading.
Kids then move up to the next instructional level.
She said particularly with non-fiction books, students are exposed to different cultures and different parts of the world. “Their sense of wonder has grown tremendously,” she said.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting Dr. Steve Troyer, superintendent, during his report to the board noted there has been an increase in April of positive tests for COVID-19. As of Tuesday, 13 students or staff had tested positive during April, already exceeding the 12 positive tests for the entire month of March.
He said the increase is likely due to spring break and traveling and encouraged the community to remain vigilant. “I know people are by now sick of the COVID restrictions and have COVID fatigue,” he said.
His report also included anticipation for a strong summer school program which he said has been well planned for. Grades K to eight will have 17 days of instruction between June 1 and 23 and the high school will have 15 days during the same time frame.
Also, the summer ECO Challenge will be brought back this summer in July and is being funded with CARES money. It is for incoming high school freshmen and new this year for incoming sixth graders. Students in the challenge are identified as those who will need academic assistance in order to be on course to graduate from high school.
And Troyer noted IREAD testing data showed there was not a significant drop in the results as might be expected due to the pandemic.
Other agenda items included:
• North Webster Elementary and Syracuse Elementary each received $500 donations from the Builders Association of North Central Indiana that will be used to purchase coats and meet other student needs.
• The Wawasee High School football team received a $2,535 donation from Track & Trail Powersports of Columbia City.
• David and Rebecca Jewel of Portland, Ore., donated $500 to the Byron Oswald Memorial Fund.
• Arrow Head Country RC&D awarded a grant of $3,820 to Mariah Roberts, agriculture teacher at Wawasee High School, for curriculum needs.
• Northern Lakes Insurance donated $500 to the super mileage program at WHS for a new engine to be purchased.
• Kosciusko County Community Foundation awarded a grant of $2,342 to the school corporation that will specifically be used to recover the expenses from the impact of COVID-19 on staff childcare as well as the Wawasee Early Learning Centers.
• Syracuse Elementary physical education teacher Kim Jones received a $1,000 KEYS grant.
• Syracuse Church of God donated $1,002 to the WHS National Honor Society for the clothing closet.
• Kiwanis International donated $942 to the WHS Key Club.
• An out of state trip to Oklahoma City May 1-7 was approved for the FFA soils judging team of Cade Beer, Jade Beer, Justin Beer, Leina Helfers and Justin Mullett.
• Diana Castell was reappointed for a four-year term to serve on the Syracuse-Turkey Creek Township Public Library Board of Trustees.