by Chuck Hoven.
(Plain Press, June 2016) Enthusiastic students in Mr. Robert Perkins’ Second Grade English Language Learners class at Gallagher School continued to read their books, adding to their total of books read, even as members of the West Cleveland Kiwanis Club were bringing in pizzas to celebrate their efforts. At the beginning of the class on May 13th, students in Perkins’ class had received credit for reading 1,437 books this school year. Mr. Perkins explained that the class uses a program called, “Accelerated Reader”. In order to gain credit for reading a book, students must complete a quiz on the computer especially designed for that book and gain a score of at least 80%.
While waiting for the pizzas to arrive, students continued to read and take the computer tests in the classroom where two students successfully added their names to the list of students that read 100 books or more. By the end of the class, the list of student having read 100 books or more this year included five students: Say Htoo, Kamila Maldonado, Jalsha Basnet, Katherine Gil, and Fabian Jimenez.
Mr. Perkins explains that some of the students in the class had little knowledge of English when they started in the class. He says students in the class have come to Cleveland from a variety of places around the world including: Nepal, Tanzania, El Salvador, Thailand, Mexico, Somalia via Kenya, and Puerto Rico.
Since the beginning of the school year, sixteen students from Agora College School of Leadership have been volunteering two days a week, helping the students with their reading, says Mr. Perkins. He says their help has been “invaluable.” He noted that, with sixteen college students, they work with most student readers one on one, having just a few of the better readers working with a college student in pairs. He says the one on one reading is something that he couldn’t provide the students on his own.
Irma Huston, a West Cleveland Kiwanis Club member, who as a Bilingual Instructional Aide at Gallagher School, teaches English Language Learners and serves as coordinator for a multilingual – multicultural after school club for students. Huston says the Kiwanis Bringing Up Grades program is acknowledging the accomplishments of Mr. Perkins’ students. She said, “Because the students have read so many books, they will be at grade level or above next year.”
In addition to Huston, a number of West Cleveland Kiwanis Club members attended the celebration providing students with awards and a pizza party for their efforts. Kiwanis members in attendance included: Carolc Tuck, Galen Younkin, Cliff Larocque and Tim Moore.
The West Cleveland Kiwanis Club is part of Division 14 of the Ohio District of the Kiwanis Club. According to the Kiwanis Club’s website, the Bringing Up Grades program is designed to “provide recognition to students who raise their grades into an acceptable range and maintain or continue to raise them from one grading period to the next.”
Mr. Perkins says the help from the Agora College students and incentives provided by the Kiwanis club are helping students to read more books. He added that despite their challenge in learning English, the English Language Learners have to pass the same state of Ohio tests that other students have to pass.