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Menahga's kindergartners boost reading skills

Although Menahga kindergarten teachers have 37 years of combined teaching experience, they're still working to enhance their kindergarten teaching skills.

Last year, the teachers began working with the Freshwater Education District program, RELI (Reforming Effective Literacy Instruction).

And during last week's school board meeting, they presented outcomes and results of the program after continuously working together to reach their goals.

Instead of independently working on developing lesson plans, the teachers met every week this year to share thoughts and give each other input.

They set five desired outcomes for themselves. They'd like to see higher achievement responses in vocabulary and writing, improved student motivation and higher test results.

"We teach our kids to read. We teach our kids to write, but now we want them to be able to talk about it," said kindergarten teacher Jeannie Mayer explaining a new method of teaching called "instructional conversation."

She said it helps the students understand books and stories, but at first, it was difficult for the students to respond to questions about stories they read.

However, data shows that kids are growing. Teachers told the board that kindergartners are moving up from level C books to level J, which are higher with more text than pictures.

"We're never just settling; we're always looking for how to improve," said elementary principal Joleen DeLaHunt.

The program is part of a grant that Menahga School applied for. It was the only school in the area that applied for the grant, according to program coordinator Rynell Schock.

"The idea of having literacy courses is an idea that's sweeping the country," Schock said. "We look forward to seeing (Menahga teachers) teaching others."