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Behind the Scenes: The impact of Reading Recovery teachers

Legrande Reading Recovery Teacher Beth Spann works with dozens of students each year, teaching literacy through early intervention.

Katrina England

Reporter, Hart County News-Herald


Reading Recovery began in the United States in 1984 and is a 12-20 week evidence-based one-on-one intervention that helps struggling students catch up to their peers.

The program serves the lowest-achieving first graders—the students who are not catching on to the complex set of concepts that make reading and writing possible. Lessons are led by specially trained teachers who received extensive professional development.

Over the years, thousands of parents across the district have seen the benefits of the Reading Recovery program in Hart County, or of interventions provided by Reading Recovery teachers. However, few know that the entire program hinges upon a four-year grant.

Hart County is fortunate enough to currently have 3 Reading Recovery Teachers throughout the district, serving students at Legrande, Bonnieville, and Memorial.  Cub Run and Munfordville have received grants in previous years, and all 5 elementary schools are in the process of reapplying for some form of the grant.

Reading Recovery Teachers practice reading and fluency, word work, spelling, phonics, sentence writing, comprehension, and practice strategies that young readers need.

One of the district Reading Recovery teachers is Beth Spann, who has served as Legrande’s Reading Recovery teacher for 16 years of her 21 years in education.

“The lesson starts with fluent reading where they reread books they’ve practiced,” explained Spann. “The teacher takes turns to model fluent reading… We do a running record on the previous day’s book, and the reading recovery teacher analyzes the running record to check for the appropriate level. We want students to score between a 90-100%.  Reading Recovery is for the lowest 20% of first graders. This serves 8-10 students, depending on if students exit early.  The remainder of the day, I teach LLI (Levelled Literacy Intervention) for Kindergarten through 3rd grade. Usually, in a year’s time, I work with approximately 30-40 students, because it is short-term intervention.”

“My aim is to get more kids reading,” said Spann. “I love the joy and the light in their eyes when that little spark happens when they get that moment, and they feel like they’re a reader. They beg to come read, because they are successful. That makes me want to cry almost. Sometimes school is really hard for those kids. (Through Reading Recovery) are proud of themselves because they are successful and it just slowly builds.”

Legrande teacher, Jessica Lindsey, saw the benefits of Reading Recovery with her son, Case, when he was in first grade.

“Reading Recovery gave Case confidence in his ability to correctly pronounce words and to read books at/above grade level,” said Lindsey. “The growth he made in just one year was unbelievable and truly helped strengthen his love for reading. Mrs. Spann provided Case with a variety of books and activities suited for his reading level and she made learning fun. We are thankful for her and the Reading Recovery program!”

In the school setting, most students love reading one-on-one with teachers, with many other students asking if they, too, can read with the trained teacher.

“Reading Recovery began in Hart County at Munfordville Elementary in 2002,” said Andrea Adcock. “That was the year I was trained and I continued to teach Reading Recovery for the next 16 years. Reading Recovery was a life changer for so many 1st grade students. Non-readers became readers and then became successful in the regular classroom.”

Melanie Carby taught Reading Recovery at Bonnieville for 19 years and knows the value of the program.

“One of the first students I had came back to visit me after graduating and said my classroom was always every students‘ safe place,’ a place where everyone felt they were valued, smart, and loved,” said Melanie Carby. “While this made me feel proud, I know I owe the compliment to Reading Recovery. Reading Recovery values all children and recognizes they are all capable of learning. The Reading Recovery teacher looks deeply at each child and provides a program centered around their specific needs while letting them know they are valued in every way. I consider it an honor to have been a Reading Recovery teacher and all students invited to participate in the program should consider it an honor as well.”

Reading Recovery has a strong tradition of success with the lowest-achieving children.  Hart County parents have seen these benefits first hand, and hundreds, if not thousands of students within the district are undoubtedly reading and writing more proficiently because of the efforts of the district’s past and present Reading Recovery teachers.


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