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Monticello receives summer reading grant

The school superintendent in Lawrence County hopes parents will take advantage of an opportunity for their children to get help getting over the summer slump.

Monticello Elementary School is one of 24 schools in the state to split $3 million in summer reading grants to support efforts in helping struggling students, said Superintendent Tammy Fairburn.

The school will receive $150,000 over three years. That’s $50,000 each year to be used for a summer reading camp for kindergartners through third-graders.

The 10-day camp will be July 8-11, July 15-17 and July 22-24. Each day, students will meet with instructors from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the school.

Fairburn said certified teachers will work with the students in five areas — phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. She expects the additional reinforcement during the summer break will help students either maintain their reading level heading into the next grade or possibly improve it.

While higher tests scores would be a benefit, it’s not Fairburn’s goal.

“Tests are very important, that’s our accountability in the district and in the state,” she said. “But the most important component to this is that it’s giving children the opportunity to learn to read and read fluently so that they can carry on their education and their careers in life. That’s the bottom line. We want good citizens who can be productive in what they do when they exit high school.”

The grants are funded through the Mississippi Department of Education through the Office of Elementary Education and Reading, which used a competitive request for proposals to award the grants.

“These grants will help schools continue to provide supports for students that are struggling in the area of literacy in schools across the state,” said MDE Chief Academic Officer Nathan Oakley.

Monticello Elementary administrators will use the grant this year to pay salaries for the teachers who will be running the summer camp for three weeks as well as books and other supplies for the students.

If parents can’t participate in the program, Fairburn wants them to encourage their children to make reading one of their summer activities.

“Children need to read, read, read. And parents need to read to their children,” she said. “That’s what promotes the good reading, the positive reading skills.”

For more information about the summer camp, call Monticello Elementary School Monday through Thursday at 601-587-7609.