Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 1:19 PM on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reading before the bell at Paul Banks

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photo provided

Volunter Melissa Arno reads to Paul Banks Elementary School students Morgen Techie, Ashley Kingrey, Samantha Cooley and Lily Ellington.

With 15 minutes between the time buses were scheduled to arrive and classes were ready to begin at Paul Banks Elementary School, it appeared the 170 youngsters in pre-kindergarten through second grade might have time on their hands.

"The kids sit there and talk, so there's some room for behavior issues," said Amy Ware, Paul Banks' Title I teacher.

The first week of school Ware and Rebecca Boone, Paul Banks reading interventionist, offered the youngsters something else to do: read.

"We put a bunch of books out and all the kids that came and sat and waited could pick out a book they wanted," said Ware. "We were trying to give kids the opportunity to read and to make it fun."

The public was invited to join the morning reading session and parents, community members and others volunteered their time to read to the students.

"A lot of these kids don't necessarily get to enjoy books at home," said Ware. "They may not have books or their parents don't have the time. So this was just a good way to get books into kids' hands and have it be a positive experience. There's no instruction. Just enjoying books. We want them to love books."

The week-long reading program was such a success that Boone and Ware are planning to do it again the first week in December.

"The kids love being read to. They love the interaction," said Ware.

In order to increase the interaction, more volunteers are needed for the 15-minute period starting at 8 a.m.

"Come any day," said Ware. "If you can only come on Monday, that's great. If you can come all five days, that's great, too."

The school provides the books.

"And we have lots of neat books," said Ware.

All volunteers have to provide is time and reading.

"The more, the better," said Ware. "Even if you can come just one day, we'd be so thankful."

A volunteer screening process has been developed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and must be completed prior to volunteering. It can be found on the district's website at www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us. Click on "employment," scroll to and click on "volunteer screening process," scroll to "Volunteer — Paul Banks Elementary School," click on "apply" and follow the directions.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.