Monday, October 25, 2021

Turn the WOW Spotlight on the Accomplishments of TBE students

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that we have amazing students that attend Tommie Barfield Elementary, right? Not to mention their talented teachers, staff and administration! Well, okay, I admit to being thrilled and inspired by the students, but there are exciting things going on with reading that you need to know about.

On Thursday, April 26th, Mary Beth Schneller, Media Specialist; Katie Maya, Principal; Alyssa Ledbetter, Assistant Principal; Molly Skudnig, Reading Coach; and Eymy Grisko, Media Assistant, gathered an astonishingly large group of students at Davinci’s to celebrate their reading accomplishments with the SSYRA 2017-18 reading list.

The Sunshine State Young Readers Awards (SSYRA) is a motivational reading program that has encouraged students to read from a specified list of carefully chosen books for students in grades 3-5 and 6-8. A committee of 20 state librarians/media specialists takes suggestions/nominations from a plethora of people and then they read every one of the books to determine which ones make the list.

The purpose of the program is to encourage leisure reading of books that appeal to that age group to increase a love of reading and improve fluency. The only goals SSYRA sets are for students are to pick books of interest, read and enjoy at least three of them. Any student that reads three books qualifies to vote in the state-wide election for their favorite book. And by the way, for even more learning relevance, the Collier County Elections Office brings in their voting machines to accurately tabulate the voting and give a quick training for the designated poll workers and voting protocol for all. Amazing! We’ll have future voters who know the ropes, er, votes.

Here’s where the staff and teachers ramp up the participation. Most of us know the enjoyment of listening to a book being read, right? Teachers will read the beginning of a book and hook the students who “race” to the library to check out their own copy. Yes, there are multiple copies of each title! Staff members can see visually who is reading, and praise students for their ongoing efforts. And they’re fun for the adults to read and discuss the plot and characters with students. There are incentives for completing all of the fifteen books during the designated time frame; this year it was recognition with trophies, dinner at Davinci’s, a book trivia game and photos. That’s where I come in.

To my astonishment, there were so many third, fourth and fifth graders who read all fifteen books that they were hard to capture in a photo all together. 

Students who have read all 15 Sunshine State Young Reader Award books for the past 3 years are; Alessia Pellegrini, Lilly Doring- Beil, Jereslyn Andrade, Danielle Johnson, Chloe Childress, Helen Totten, Elizabeth Hobbs, Chelsea Saynes and Maggie Poling. WOW!

Those who read all 15 books for the past two years are; Lily Tessarzik , Vania Antonio, Rowen Lee, Aubrey Guidry, Emma Mastrangelo, Maya Arat , and Aiden Karl.

Those who read all 15 this past year are; Ava Cook, Julie Cedrone, Lina Prieto, Madison Taylor, Ava Richardson, Alessia Serravalle, Brianna Ferro, Jaelynn Skrzynski, Lincoln Garwood, Veleon Nazarko, Jayden Kleine, Whitney Vande Hei, Julian Morris, Andjela Zdravkovic, Savannah Drott, Gracie Johnson, Ava Solimine, Nathan Olsen, Tristan Roberts, Mateo Nadler, Ava Lewis, Sophie Sullivan, Alex Macko, Madeline Curiale, Stephanie Escobedo, Colin Cherr, Zack Antaramian, Janie Cartwright, Delaney Mann, Jacob Watt, Lucas Chustz, Brigid O’Sullivan, Kacie Swanson, Iliana Garcia, Julian Yanez-Vazquez, Julian Rios, Sloan Wheeler and Ginger Roloff.

This program, a collaborative effort between the Florida Association for Media in Education and the Florida Department of Education is creative, timely and sustainable because of the interest generated in the books chosen. When TBE Media Specialist, Debra Houghtaling started this program many years ago, books were flying off the shelves as they are today. And even if students read three or four by the deadline, they are still interested in reading more of them on their own time. What could be better?

Here are the 2017-18 first, second and third place book winners as determined by all the grade 3-5 students in Florida, including the awesome students above, who read three or more and voted. Don’t the covers pique your curiosity and make you want to read them to your children? Even younger children can benefit from hearing the words and discussing the stories. Summer reading, here we come!

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!

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