WILMINGTON — When you enter a Holmes Elementary kindergarten classroom during phonics time, you may see a student making words from letter tiles, or writing a sentence from two words she’s been given.
“I’m blown away by what I’m seeing in kindergarten classrooms,” Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Director of Curriculum and Instruction Nikki Quallen said during Monday’s school board meeting.
In July the board of education adopted “From Phonics to Reading” for grades K to 3, and Quallen gave an update on the new program.
Holmes Elementary Principal Dr. Marilee Tanner said children there “absolutely love the phonics program” and it will be exciting to see what can be done as a district.
The adoption of the phonics program was made, she said, because they weren’t getting the literacy results they wanted.
A big component of the program, said Quallen, is to have students blending sounds to make words, a skill they practice daily.
Of course, the program is designed not only so students are able to say the words, but also recognize the words when they see them and be able to write them as well.
The program also has “connected text” the young pupils read that matches in real time what they’re being taught. Students learn a specific skill at the same time they’re reading texts that allow them to practice that skill, instead of words or sounds they haven’t been taught yet, Quallen reported.
So students get immediate feedback, and can have immediate success, she added.
In a slide presentation, Holmes second-grade teacher Nicole Corbin stated, “Students are definitely growing and using these strategies more independently than I’ve noticed in the past.”
Parents are encouraged to be part of the process. At the beginning of each unit, a parent guide is sent home. This family letter introduces parents to the sounds and letters their children are learning, and provides the words with those sounds and letters.
At the board meeting, fourth- and fifth-grade student council representatives were recognized. There were posters and speeches during the campaigns to elect student council members from each homeroom.
These young student council members are: Bristyl Ruddle, Larkyn Mellinger, Justin Maerean, Jasper Hall, Andrew Jones, Jillian Zeigler, Avery Treisch, Clara Coates, Emily Leon, Morgan Allen, Peniel Adigun, Reagan Angelica, Maranda Merriman, Kella Smith, Deja Bullard, Riley Dumford, and Aiden Kerns.
Also there are: Adalee Mattingly, Brody Croucher, Julianna Tuller, Karrson Scarberry, Cameron Adams, Cameron McFarland, Emilee Langoehr, Arayia Akers, Aubrey Huelskamp, Sophie Swick, Nef Criss, Lee Rethmel, Kathryn Villa, Brock Workman, Elaina Achtermann, and Kinverlin Hernandez Helo.
In other matters, the board approved revised education requirements for substitute teachers for the academic year 2021-22 per recently passed Ohio Senate Bill 1. The board’s resolution allows WCS to employ non-degree people to serve as substitute teachers as an emergency measure in the event of a substitute teacher shortage.
During public participation, Jordan Parrish read a statement. He said he believes critical race theory is being taught in the WCS school system, adding he feels it is being disguised and parents are being led to believe it isn’t in the schools.
He also said he fears “the school has gone way too far in coddling our children by trying to raise them instead of teach them as they are paid to do.”
At the start of the meeting, Pat Swindler who passed away earlier this month at 91 was honored. Board President Marty Beaugard Sr. said in addition to Swindler’s success as a businesswoman and devotion to her family, she served 16 years on the WCS Board of Education from October 1976 to November 1992.
Swindler was one of Wilmington’s most dedicated citizens, the board president said.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.