YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollectionsCostco

Reading camp celebrates gains

September 22, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

NILAND — As the two-week reading camp at Grace Smith School here ended Friday, participants and instructors celebrated the gains not only in reading ability but in self-esteem.

During the Costco Corp.-sponsored reading camp, 50 students from Grace Smith's second- through fifth grades spent 10 days working with Costco employees, reading specialists, teachers, community volunteers and AmeriCorps members to improve their reading skills.

"I'm proud of all of you," Principal Douglas Kline told the students.

"Each of us is a better person today than we were 10 days ago," he said.

"The reading academy was so fun because you can learn how to read more and better," said fourth-grader Jessie Jones.

The 9-year-old said she likes reading more now than at the beginning of camp because it's more fun.

Jessica Forgea, 9, agreed.

This fourth-grader enjoyed the camp because she liked her instructors and got to learn many different sounds in words.


Learning to hear and say the sounds was a big part of the camp. Unlike the traditional method of teaching children to read by first teaching them the alphabet, the Costco reading academy focused on sounds before letters.

The camp also used motivating creeds, cheering and enthusiastic rallies to bring out the fun in reading.

The results of these Costco camps from other sites across the country show participants can raise their reading levels by as much as three grade levels.

While test data hadn't been compiled yet, preliminary results showed similar growth at Grace Smith. One girl, for example, started the program reading 48 words per minute. By Friday, she was reading over 200 words a minute, Kline said.

The academic improvement isn't even Kline's favorite part of the past two weeks.

"The best thing is we have 50 enthusiastic learners running around this campus and that's contagious," Kline said.

Despite the tragedy of last Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the camp continued.

"The tragedy was a motivational tool," Kline said.

"We were searching for something positive in it," he said.

"I don't want to say good-bye to these people (from Costco) because of all they've done for this school," Kline said.

Costco decided to conduct a reading academy at Grace Smith after some of the corporation's managers visited last year at the request of Niland Family Resource Center Coordinator Diana Peacher.

Before the camp began, Peacher said she anticipated student confidence rising.

According to Costco reading therapist Casie McNeil, students' self-esteem grew leaps and bounds.

"The progress was indescribable," she said, recalling a shy girl who finally came out of her shell with newfound self-confidence.

"I'm so proud of what they've done," McNeil said.

Paul Martin, Grace Smith resource teacher and reading academy instructor, watched the transformation himself.

"This program really helped to turn them on to reading. They saw how reading could be fun," Martin said.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles