Giving the gift of reading at Kelley School

Joshua Bonefant, 5, reads to Kelley Elementary School custodian Larry LaComb during a special reading exercise with the school's kindergarteners. Bonefant selected LaComb as his reading partner.

Joshua Bonefant, 5, reads to Kelley Elementary School custodian Larry LaComb during a special reading exercise with the school’s kindergarteners. Bonefant selected LaComb as his reading partner.

By TAYLOR HARTZ
STAFF WRITER

After ending a unit on the power of reading, Rose Risser’s kindergarten class at Kelley Elementary School chose staff members for a chance to share their new skill.

“We were giving the gift of reading to special teachers in our school,” said Risser, whose class of five and six-year-olds spent the morning of Thursday, Dec. 17 reading to cafeteria workers, custodians, and assistants.

Reese Marek, 5, reads to Patty Siarkowski, a paraprofessional who works in Rose Ritter's elementary school class.

Reese Marek, 5, reads to Patty Siarkowski, a paraprofessional who works in Rose Ritter’s elementary school class.

Before heading into their holiday break, the Kelley kindergarteners finished a curriculum unit that taught them different skills to improving their reading.

The skills were presented as different “super powers” and included the use of a reading partner, pointing to words on the page while reading aloud, re-reading any mistakes, and persisting through difficult words.

Jill Chapman, a literacy coach for the district, said the end of this unit is really when the students can say with confidence that they know how to read.

Chapman said she and the school staff “thought that sharing the gift of reading would be a great way to celebrate the end of this unit, and start a new unit with excitement.”

The kindergarteners shared their excitement by reading to the staff members they chose.

Circled up on the carpet in Risser’s classroom, Joshua Bonefant read “Wake Up Daddy” to custodian Larry LaComb, while Reese Marek, Nadia Imme, Toa Onner, all read to Patty Siarkowski, a paraprofessional for Risser’s class.

Each staff member received a letter naming them “a special person” and a decorated gift bag to accompany their gift.

Cole Leftkowicz, 6, (right), and Jonathon Coleman, 5, (left), read to Kelley Elementary School cafeteria worked Barbara Bartlett.

Cole Leftkowicz, 6, (right), and Jonathon Coleman, 5, (left), read to Kelley Elementary School cafeteria worked Barbara Bartlett.

Cole Leftkowicz and Jonathan Coachman walked down to the school cafeteria to share their stories, including a book called “The Red Puppy”, with cafeteria worker Barbara Bartlett.

“This is the best gift I’ve gotten,” said Bartlett, who has been at Kelley for nearly 14-years. “They have so much enthusiasm.”

While the students read actively in class to practice their skills, this activity gave them the opportunity to read entire books aloud to the staff and their classmates.

“We feel they’ve been getting the gift of reading their whole lives,” said Chapman, “and now they can return that gift.”

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Hartz, email her at THartz@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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