Riley visits with local educators

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gov. Bob Riley praised and challenged teachers participating in the Alabama Reading Academy at Helena Elementary last Friday.

&8220;Three and one half years ago, I didn&8217;t know a DIBEL from a doughnut,&8221; said Gov. Riley. Now, he said, he has &8220;never been more excited.&8221;

DIBELS stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills.

According to the governor&8217;s office, the academy at Helena Elementary and at 150 other sites this summer are being held to train teachers in ARI, the Alabama Reading Initiative.

ARI is a research-based, intensive teacher-training program that shows teachers how to achieve high levels of literacy for all their students.

Riley said all of his life Alabama ranked 48, 49 or 50 in reading.

&8220;People in Alabama honestly believed there was something wrong with us,&8221; he said. &8220;But it has never been that way.&8221;

The governor said today Alabama has the best reading program in the nation.

&8220;Test scores have just exploded,&8221; he said. And according to the governor&8217;s office, after this summer&8217;s academies like that at Helena Elementary, ARI will be available in every public school K-3 classroom in the state when students return this fall.

Riley said, &8220;We see DIBELS scores going up all across the sate.&8221;

&8220;It will work,&8221; Riley said. &8220;But it all comes down to you. It really does. It all comes down to how you accept this program. You must not only teach them to read but to learn to love to read.&8221;

Riley said 4,500 teachers would have gone through the program this summer for a total of 29,000 in all.

&8220;We have to prioritize,&8221; Riley said. &8220;When we have been last for all our lives, you have to understand we need to do something about it.&8221;

The governor said,&8221; We are going to put every dollar in to your salary we can, but we have to do this. I want Alabama to have an education system second to none.&8221;

He told the teachers, &8220;Thank you for being here. Thank you for going through this. Thank you for meaning what you do to our children and grandchildren.&8221;

April Brower, who teachers kindergarten at Helena Elementary said she would hold the governor to his challenge.

And Candi Cooley, reading interventionist for Inverness and Helena said, &8220;I was real excited that he came here to let us know his support for the Alabama Reading Academy and Alabama Reading Initiative. This is my third time to go though. I love seeing it work.&8221;