Montevallo schools post reading program in all grades

Shelby County Schools in Montevallo are the first to boast the nationally recognized Alabama Reading Initiative program in kindergarten through 12th grades.

The ARI program was recently introduced to Montevallo Middle and Montevallo High schools.

According to Dr. Katherine Mitchell, director of the Alabama Reading Initiative, Montevallo joined Alexander City and Oxford as one of only three communities in the state to have ARI in all grade levels.

Faculty from Montevallo Middle and High schools trained this month with Mitchell on how to implement the program.

Mitchell commended the effort of the schools, especially since state funding for ARI programs has been reduced due to proration.

In order for the program to start at Montevallo, the Shelby County School system paid for the program, at an estimated cost of $30,000 from Title II federal funds.

The ARI program has produced positive results in other areas and has reduced the number of high school students who are poor readers, according to Mitchell.

The goal is to keep those students from joining the ranks of nearly one in four Alabama adults who are considered functionally illiterate.

Montevallo High School principal Dr. George Theodore said he thinks the ARI program could have a tremendous impact on students’ reading ability.

&uot;Without exaggerating, I really think this is something that could effect the students for the rest of their lives,&uot; Theodore said.

&uot;I’m excited about getting into something that has been proven to help children,&uot; said Montevallo Middle School principal Johnny McClain.

&uot;I think … things have been falling into place. I’ve had 100 percent participation (in the training) from my teachers.&uot;

The Alabama Reading Initiative is divided into modules.

Becky Dobelstein, a teacher at Hewitt-Trussville Middle School spoke about one module &045; the reading/writing connection.

Jane Clayton, an 11th grade English, speech and drama teacher at the high school felt positive about her ARI training.

&uot;To work together for the betterment of our students has been a good thing,&uot; she said.

&uot;We’ve learned new strategies to make the reading/writing connection. Because teachers are so isolated, it has been an excellent opportunity for the … middle school and high school teachers to work together for a common goal.&uot;