Jacquie Lortie, Literacy Lead Teacher at Village School in Gorham was our guest and speaker on May 2. Her primary job is to support students in Kindergarten through fifth grade who are having difficulty learning to read. Jacquie and three ed techs serve almost 50 students each day.
Jacquie and her team see their students daily for 45 minutes in small groups of 2 or 3, organized according to their reading levels instruction can be individualized as much as possible. Typically, they see 12-15 in each of Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade each year. The numbers decrease as the students move into third, fourth and fifth grades because they have made the gains needed to be working at their grade level.
Part of the students’ program is reading outside of school and homework is assigned at the end of the lesson each day.  In order to become efficient readers, children need to practice their reading, so the homework is to reread whatever they have read that day during the lesson.  Parents are asked to listen to their child read for 15 minutes each night.
Unfortunately, for one reason or another, some parents are not able to read regularly with their child. Not having the opportunity to practice reading places the child at jeopardy for making progress.  This is where volunteers come in. Ten years ago, many parents volunteered in the schools and could often be put to work listening to children read.  Now, they are finding that fewer parents are available to volunteer in school.
Research has found that the number of minutes spent in oral reading with an adult, even if it is a small amount, correlates positively to reading achievement. High achieving students who scored at the 90th percentile on reading tests spent 200 times as many minutes per day reading in contrast to the struggling readers who scored at the tenth percentile on tests. Students who read well choose to read more. Conversely, students who struggle with reading choose to not read and the poor reader has a very difficult time catching up with their peers who read more often. Research also tells us that students who are poor readers at the end of third grade will probably not catch up in the future.
Jacquie told us that it has been a wonderful gift having the Rotarians volunteer. Each has been assigned 3 students with whom they read for 15-20 minutes once a week. The students are mostly children who are receiving extra support in school, but do not read regularly with an adult at home.  Village School also has high school volunteers and “reading buddies” from the 4th and 5th grades who read with the younger students. However, our five Rotarians are currently the only adult volunteers reading with students.
L-R: Christine Johnson, Jacquie Lortie, Kate Wight
and Woody Beach
The staff at Village School is very appreciative of the time and patience that Kate, Woody, Ethan, Christine, and Steve have given to the students this year and are hopeful that this partnership can continue next year.
At the end of the program, Jacquie signed a new book which was donated to the Baxter Library.