This year is a monumental one for Ramsay School.
The southeast Calgary school, which serves the communities of Ramsay and Victoria Park, is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2012. Through those years, its teachers and staff have shown a commitment to growth and learning for their students.
In particular, The Little School with the Big Heart has embraced Calgary Reads in a big way to help their students develop critical early literacy skills. The benefits of this have been amazing, said Stephanie Jones, a teacher and Calgary Reads School Co-ordinator at the school.
“Students are not only developing reading skills but they are developing a love of reading from someone, their tutor, who clearly loves to read too,” she said. “I love knowing that when students leave the room, they are getting purposeful instruction that they can transfer to their independent reading. It also enhances classroom reading instruction.”
Jones stressed that every child has the right to learn and experience the joy of reading.
“It is our responsibility to teach the skills that each individual child needs in order to make them read,” she said. “Calgary Reads helps us to reach every child in the class and ensures everyone is getting the exact assistance they need.”
Early literacy is important, Jones noted, because it lays the foundation for further learning; it’s extremely important that children don’t fall behind because it could create a learning roadblock.
“I think it is important to engage students early and have them enjoy the learning processes so that they want to learn more. Calgary Reads helps to ensure these things for everyone.”
Jones has taught at Ramsay for four years following a year-long stint at Terrace Road School, where she first saw the benefits of Calgary Reads.
“When I moved to Ramsay School, I contacted Calgary Reads and they made having the programs at our school easy to organize and it’s been building ever since,” she said.
Students love seeing tutors arrive and are equally eager to share with Jones how their reading skills have improved as a result of the sessions. The school recently hosted a Family Literacy Night, created from resources in the Literacy-in-a-Box developed by Calgary Reads, which Jones said went very well.
“We started with a potluck and allowed time for the parents to talk to each other and the teachers to meet new parents,” she said. “We then introduced a scavenger hunt through the school. Students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 toured their families around and demonstrated their knowledge.”
Parents then listened to a presentation and were able to ask questions about literacy at home, while the students read with the school’s principal.
“The feedback from parents was great,” Jones said. “They talked about understanding the importance of literacy being more than just reading. It was a great time as a teacher to reflect on ways to communicate with parents and show them all of the many ways they can support their children. It was a fun and very informative night for everyone involved.”
Ramsay is also part of Calgary Reads’ pilot program that has five University of Calgary students coming to the school to work with a young reader and coach an older child as well.
“This is yet another amazing program,” Jones said.
The U of C students complete reading tutoring sessions with children in Grades 1 and 2. They take along a Grade 5 reading buddy and spend time teaching him or her ways to support the Grade 1/2 reader. Later in the week, the Grade 5 students take the skills they have learned to the students in the younger grades.
“Not only do they get to become leaders through this program, the Grade 5s are also learning more reading strategies for themselves,” Jones said. “The Grade 1 and 2s then get to double their time with a reader. I feel as though this program is really utilizing all the strengths in the school.”
Ramsay School, along with Calgary Reads, hosted a Together Event to celebrate the joy of reading at their school on April 11th.
Happy Birthday Ramsay School!