Young reader readiness at Belleville Elementary

In thanks to two grants, one Belleville Elementary educator developed a summer reading program to keep student’s from “summer slide” ahead of the new calendar year.
Summer reading program aims to up young reader readiness at Belleville Elementary
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 7:37 AM CDT
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BELLEVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) -As the countdown to the classroom continues for students, teachers, and staff have had their sights on the new calendar year for months.

In the case of one Belleville Elementary literacy coach, planning began while the kids were still in class last spring.

Shelley Lentz received a grant from the Alliant Energy Foundation and went forward in developing a summer reading program for about 50 students in kindergarten through 2nd grade.

“It was really targeting that ‘summer slide,’ a lot of kids, where they leave in the spring at the end of the school year is not where they come back in in the fall,” Lentz explains. “Summers are busy and they should be…but really just trying to bridge that gap to help them maintain over the summer.”

Wanting to make an impact on young readers throughout the summer in Belleville, she arranged for each participating student to receive 15 books to bolster their at-home libraries - with the first five books being dealt during the last week of school.

“It was a fantastic summer and I’m really fortunate that I got to do this experience that I’ll treasure forever because the love and excitement for books that was generated from it from students was really awesome,” Lentz says.

District-wide students in 7-12th grade will return to the classroom Sept. 1 but for about 500 students at Belleville Elementary they are returning after squeezing in one more weekend of summer and will begin Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Kelsey Schmit, Belleville Elementary principal says she is more than ready to greet those new and returning smiling faces on day one.

“I grew up here, I went to school here, I started as a teacher here, I was the assistant principal and now principal so I have a lot invested in this community and in this school system,” Schmit says. “I’m very excited to be able to share that excitement and my love for school and learning with all the students and the staff we have here.”

The summer reading program developed by a Belleville Elementary literacy coach aims to keep young minds engaged and reading until they return to the classroom.