Program at Fairmont Elementary puts focus on reading

FAIRMONT — The Summer Reads Vista Reading program will kick off next week at Fairmont Elementary School.

The free program is for children entering grades kindergarten through fourth grade, and is designed to help prevent the summer slide.

Summer Reads is offered through Fairmont CER in cooperation with the Minnesota Literacy Council and AmeriCorps Summer Reads VISTA. Trained Americorps VISTA workers will work with the students.

“It’s great for kids who need extra reading help, but we get all varieties,” said Roni Dauer, CER director. “We want the youth to be engaged in reading and the enjoyment of it as a life-long activity.”

There are 45 students signed up. They attend an hour-long session two days per week during the seven-week program.

Students attending schools in Fairmont, public and private, were sent home a flier about the program during the school year. However, the program is open to all students in the area. Dauer said transportation help can be arranged if needed.

This is the fifth summer that the program has been offered in Fairmont. The four VISTA workers for this summer’s program are Jacquie Sondag, Bridget Ann Neurohr, Annie Mittelstadt and Jill Christensen. The workers will do one-on-one reading and tutoring, and then they will also do group activities that include art projects and cooking activities.

Neurohr, who helps with reading and math at Granada-Huntley-East Chain School during the school year, shared that each week will involve a different theme, with books to go with it. They also will plan a cooking activity with the theme. The themes include gardening and insects with a dirt cup snack; Curious George, with a banana snack; Dr. Seuss with green eggs and ham; “pop into a good book” with popcorn.

“We’ll make a recipe book of everything we made to send home with them,” Neurhor said.

The VISTA workers emphasize that they will work on writing skills as well reading.

Christensen is a reading interventionist at Fairmont Elementary School. She said some of the books are donated and some are brand new from The Minnesota Literacy Council, which has donated thousands of books to the program.

“If anyone has book they’d like to donate, they can bring them into the CER office at anytime,” she noted.

“The kids will get to take books home and keep them,” said Sondag, adding, “The last year I did this, there were a couple of kids who didn’t have any books of their own when they came.”

Some popular books on hand this summer are “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books, “Magic Treehouse,” Disney books, “Pinkalicious” and holiday books.

The VISTA workers will have half an hour each session just to do one-on one reading with students.

“We never have more than eight kids here at once,” said Mittelstadt, adding, “We have room for about 15 more kids.”

The workers added that there is also free breakfast offered at the school from 8:30-9 a.m. and a free lunch from 12-12:30 p.m. When signing up, there is the option of having morning or afternoon sessions so students can take advantage of the free meals at the school.

“We just want them to learn to love books and love reading like all four of us do,” Sondag said.

Anyone interested in signing up may call the CER office at (507) 235-3141.