April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Grant benefits Hope Elementary reading program

By By Paul [email protected]

A grant from a local endowment fund is being used to strengthen children's reading skills -- in an incentive sort of way.

The Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment Fund last month awarded a total of $23,050 in grants to nine organizations that are working to enhance community life in northern Bartholomew County.

Among them was Hope Elementary School, which received $2,000 for the 2016-17 school year. School officials will use that money to purchase semester-ending rewards for students in its Accelerated Reader program.

"Without this grant from the endowment fund, we couldn't continue," Principal Jessica Poe said.

Hope Elementary School implemented the program at least five years ago to meet a state initiative to improve Hoosier students' reading levels. Students are assessed individually at the beginning of the school year and classified to levels suited to their abilities, Poe said. They are asked to read at that level for 20 minutes a day by checking out books at the Hope branch of the Bartholomew County Public Library.

Poe said evaluations follow at the school year's midway point and its ending point to determine just how much process the students have made.

The reward for older students who reach their reading goals might be a field trip to Columbus for a movie and popcorn or perhaps miniature golf. For younger students it might be a visit to Hope's Corner Cafe for ice cream.

The point is that there is a tangible incentive to read at a challenging level.

Poe estimated that 90 percent of students attain their goals.

And that's a good thing.

Poe said the success of the Accelerated Reader program is only as good as its participation, which by the way is mandatory. She worked outside the school corporation's general fund to secure $5,000 in state grants for the program, because she believes so much in what it does for students. The $2,000 endowment grant was just the cherry on top, helping encourage students to give their maximum effort.

Poe said strong reading skills help students' perform well in other capacities. For example, she sees a correlation with ISTEP+, a standardized test that measures proficiency in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.[[In-content Ad]]