Davie County Read to Achieve Summer Camp – 16 Days of Success!

Jeanna B. White

Sixteen days can change a life and a future.

Ask the 120 students who attended Davie County’s summer 2017 Read to Achieve Camp.

Many who had been reluctant to attend were now sorry to see it end. Some, who had never experienced academic success, did so for the first time. All received a new level of confidence in their ability to succeed during the coming school year.The camp is designed to help third graders who have not met state requirements in reading to advance to the fourth grade, as mandated by the North Carolina Department of Instruction. The camp also included first and second graders who demonstrated the potential of reaching grade-level proficiency in reading with extra help in the summer.

The camp is designed to help third graders who have not met state requirements in reading to advance to the fourth grade, as mandated by the North Carolina Department of Instruction. The camp also included first and second graders who demonstrated the potential of reaching grade-level proficiency in reading with extra help in the summer.

As in the past three years, this year’s camp was a tremendous success. More than 24% of the county’s non-proficient third-graders reached the required reading achievement score to move on to fourth grade. Additional students are expected to pass the Read to Achieve test in the months following camp. A remarkable 81% showed positive growth on one or more reading assessments. All will continue on to fourth grade with more skills and as more confident readers.

The third graders were not the only campers to blossom. Preliminary DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) results indicate strong gains, with 74% of 1st and 2nd grade campers making growth in reading fluency.

“While a 24% success rate may not seem extraordinary to people not close to education, and more specifically the Read to Achieve program, that rate has historically been far better than those being reported by the majority of school systems in North Carolina,” said Larry Colbourne, President, Mebane Charitable Foundation, which provided a grant of over $99,000 to support the 2017 summer camp. Since 2014, the Foundation has invested more than $338,000 in partnering with Davie County Schools to fund the intensive four-week camp.

According to the camp’s director, Jeremy Brooks, the camp’s consistent level of success is beginning to cause educators across the state to take notice. Other school systems have begun to call him asking questions about the program and one school system sent representatives to observe.

Davie County’s innovative Read to Achieve Camp employs a holistic, arts-based approach to reading. Attendees actively learn through visual arts, dance, drama, music and creative writing, in addition to tailored instruction through Hill Center Reading Achievement Program sessions (Hill Rap) and small group literacy circles. Campers develop self-confidence and learn techniques to reduce test anxiety.

“I believe using the arts in our approach to the Read to Achieve Camp makes us quite unique,” said Brenda Mosko, who taught drama during the camp. “We have incorporated many of the techniques used in the A+ Schools model for education in our camp. This enriched atmosphere creates magic for our students. During the year, our children receive their arts classes only once a week, but at camp they are nurtured in the arts on a daily basis.”

“Our camp integrates art, music, drama and dance into our main theme each week as we race across North Carolina from the mountains in week one to the coast in week four. Our teachers find material that seamlessly weaves reading into each art form,” she said.

“Arts integration uses teaching practices that have been shown in brain-based research to improve comprehension and long-term retention. For example, when students create stories, pictures, or other nonverbal expressions of the content they are learning — a process researchers call elaboration — they are also helping to better embed the information.”

“From the first day of camp to the last, we work to not only build up our children’s reading confidence but also their self-esteem. We start with a daily warm up in the gym to get our mind and body prepared for a day filled with learning. Each child completes a child-friendly multiple intelligences inventory based on the work of Howard Gardner. Through this inventory, each child discovers which of the multiple intelligences are their strongest. They also find that they truly are smart. Once they realize this very important fact, their outlook on camp and the test changes dramatically.”

A Recipe for Success
The structure of the camp creates a lot of excitement. Students aren’t used to singing, dancing, and rapping during a regular school day.The camp day begins at 8:00 a.m. with a short combined session focused on goal setting for the day. Students are divided into small groups with an average ratio of fourteen students per teacher except when students are in Hill RAP sessions at the four to one ratio. The student’s day is divided between Hill Rap sessions, writing to learn sessions, art and reading sessions, testing stamina sessions,

The camp day begins at 8:00 a.m. with a short combined session focused on goal setting for the day. Students are divided into small groups with an average ratio of fourteen students per teacher except when students are in Hill RAP sessions at the four to one ratio. The student’s day is divided between Hill Rap sessions, writing to learn sessions, art and reading sessions, testing stamina sessions, music/theatre and verbal expression sessions, and diagnostic reading clinic sessions.Each session lasts approximately forty-five minutes. Each day ends at 2:45 p.m.

Each session lasts approximately forty-five minutes. Each day ends at 2:45 p.m.

Campers experienced 128 hours of instruction with over 28 hours spent in individualized learning sessions with three to four students in the group.Students also had computer lab time to work with a program called myON, which offers a

Students also had computer lab time to work with a program called myON, which offers a high-interest reading experience tailored to a student’s level and individual needs. The program allowed them to build vocabulary and score points for the number of books that they read at camp, on a digital device at home, or on a computer at the public library. Each grade level benefited from a partnership with the Davie County Public Library through which they enjoyed a weekly story time with Julie Whitaker from the library staff.

Each grade level benefited from a partnership with the Davie County Public Library through which they enjoyed a weekly story time with Julie Whitaker from the library staff.Students thrived on outdoor time during their activity/lunch time with their YMCA counselors, who serve as Davie County Schools teachers assistants during the school year.Informal performances and “sharings” were held routinely throughout the entire camp experience. Students often begged to be able to perform for their peers which

Students thrived on outdoor time during their activity/lunch time with their YMCA counselors, who serve as Davie County Schools teachers assistants during the school year.Informal performances and “sharings” were held routinely throughout the entire camp experience. Students often begged to be able to perform for their peers which

Informal performances and “sharings” were held routinely throughout the entire camp experience. Students often begged to be able to perform for their peers which was another indication of their growing self-confidence as these performances often involved memorizing lines, playing musical instruments, or presenting a dance that they had choreographed with a small group. These ranked among the highlights of the camp experience.

The camp closed with a large all-camp celebration of the themes of Native American culture which recognized each camper as a valued member of the tribe. Students sang, played musical instruments, performed traditional ceremonial dances, and shared their art exhibits. This was not a traditional performance, but what A+ Schools refers to as an “informance” that is held without the pressure of adults and families watching, but is solely for students to share their creations with each other.An A+ camp requires A+ teachers

An A+ camp requires A+ teachers
Developing highly effective students requires innovative, highly effective teachers. The heart of Davie’s RtA camp is its staff of passionate, dedicated educators. Each has been trained in the A+ Schools Arts Integrated Instruction program. In addition, those conducting Hill RAP sessions are experienced in teaching Hill reading methodologies. “We have awesome teachers in this program,” said Jeremy Brooks, camp director. “We have National Board certified teachers, Teachers of the Year, teachers with a lot of experience, and teachers who genuinely care about kids and know how to nurture them and work with them in the summertime when they aren’t exactly eager to be at school.”

“We have awesome teachers in this program,” said Jeremy Brooks, camp director. “We have National Board certified teachers, Teachers of the Year, teachers with a lot of experience, and teachers who genuinely care about kids and know how to nurture them and work with them in the summertime when they aren’t exactly eager to be at school.” Most are RtA camp veterans who return each year because they are excited about the growth and success these students are experiencing. Both Lauren Reith and Noel Grady-Smith scheduled their retirement dates around being able to teach at this summer’s camp.

Most are RtA camp veterans who return each year because they are excited about the growth and success these students are experiencing. Both Lauren Reith and Noel Grady-Smith scheduled their retirement dates around being able to teach at this summer’s camp. Grady-Smith and Reith are two of the camp’s twenty-seven amazing educators from across Davie County. Others include:

Grady-Smith and Reith are two of the camp’s twenty-seven amazing educators from across Davie County. Others include:
Suzie Alonzo – Hill Center (Cornatzer)
Shelly Bryans – Teacher Assistant
Kerry Blackwelder – Hill Center (Cooleemee)
Jeremy Brooks – RtA Director (North Davie)
Kim Brooks – Reading Coach (Cornatzer)
Mary Lynn Bullins – Reading Coach (Cornatzer)
Kilby Church – 1st Grade Reading Coach (Pinebrook)
Christy Cornatzer – Hill Center (Cornatzer)
Lori Culler – Reading Coach (Pinebrook)
Leigh Ann Davis – Reading Coach (Pinebrook)
Regina Dzybon – 2nd Grade Reading Coach (Shady Grove)
Shannon Eggleston – Reading Coach (William R. Davie)
Michael Errickson – 3rd Grade Art TA (Cornatzer)
Angelina Etter – 1st Grade Hill Center (Mocksville)
Suzie Hecht – 2nd Grade Hill Center (Mocksville)
Jenny Kimel – 1st Grade Reading Coach ( William R Davie)
Mindy Ledbetter- 1st and 2nd Grade Art (Davie High School)
Brenda Mosko- Music (William Ellis/South Davie)
Anna Newman – Music (North Davie)
Erin Penley – 1st and 2nd Grade Music (Pinebrook)
Dana Roberts – Art (South Davie)
Alma Rosas – Hill Center (William R. Davie)
Raymonda Shelton – Assistant RtA Director (William R Davie)
Kolleen Sullivan – Hill Center (Shady Grove)
Julie West – 2nd Grade Reading Coach (Shady Grove)”The Mebane Foundation has provided resources and staff support for our students in

“The Mebane Foundation has provided resources and staff support for our students in Read to Achieve Camp that would not be possible with the limited state funding provided for summer camps,” said Dr. Darrin Hartness, superintendent of Davie County Schools. “The students attending camp are receiving a personalized learning experience enhanced by the arts. Additional specialized teaching staff blend individualized reading instruction and the arts. This fun-filled experience leads to improved reading fluency and comprehension, which affects a student’s performance in all other subjects. The professional development and new skills our camp teachers incorporate into summer camp carry over into their schools across the district throughout the school year.”The camp builds so much more than academic success. Students leave camp believing in themselves and their abilities.

The camp builds so much more than academic success. Students leave camp believing in themselves and their abilities. “It’s more than reading lessons, it’s more than the arts, it’s teachers instilling confidence in kids and making them feel successful every day so that when they go take that test their confidence is through the roof,” Brooks said. “It’s growing a mindset in kids in four weeks that when you retake the reading test you will be fine, you CAN pass this, and you WILL pass this test.”

“It’s more than reading lessons, it’s more than the arts, it’s teachers instilling confidence in kids and making them feel successful every day so that when they go take that test their confidence is through the roof,” Brooks said. “It’s growing a mindset in kids in four weeks that when you retake the reading test you will be fine, you CAN pass this, and you WILL pass this test.” “We provide 16 days of success so that the test is no longer such a big deal and the students have the resilience and confidence to make it through.”

“We provide 16 days of success so that the test is no longer such a big deal and the students have the resilience and confidence to make it through.”

Reading Achievement Programs

HILLRAP I (2003-2007)

As part of our four-year, $750,000 funding agreement, The Hill Center was also charged with designing a continuation of the HELP project to address teacher training for grades K-3 with a similar methodology. The Hill Reading Achievement Program (HillRAP) is an adapted version of the Hill Methodology that is more prescriptive, easier for teachers to implement, and more cost-effective to deliver than traditional Hill Methodology delivered at The Hill Center.

rap1

Twenty-six elementary teachers from Davie County’s six elementary schools began HillRAP training in the summer of 2005, and started implementing the intensive reading intervention program when the school year began.

HillRAP includes the five essential components of a successful reading program as put forth in the National Reading Panel Report of 2000. Phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension are the core of the daily instructional program that is ideally implemented in 45- to 60- minute sessions five days a week. While students work in small groups of four, each student has an individualized curriculum to provide instruction in areas where there are demonstrated skill deficits in reading. Small units of information are presented sequentially and practiced daily until a set criterion is met for three to five consecutive days and overlearning is achieved. Mastered skills are reviewed weekly to ensure retention. Classes are designed to maximize opportunities for oral and written student responses and success experiences. All student responses are graphed and charted daily by the teachers and students in order to document mastery before advancing to a higher level skill. Student-teacher interaction focuses on praise and positive reinforcement for correct answers or approximations of the correct response.

When RTI reported impressive results, the program was extended through 5th grade at all six schools. As a result of the intensive nature of the program, often involving a 4-to-1 student-teacher ratio based on the students’ reading levels, reading specialists in the program began forming what are now known as “RAP Clinics.” These interventions included classroom teachers and assistant teachers under strict supervision of highly trained RAP teachers, and provided group support to many more struggling readers in the early grades. Eventually, at least one elementary school used the same RAP Clinic model with community volunteers working under the guidance and supervision of a RAP-trained reading specialist. This approach enabled the schools to provide benefits from these proven reading interventions to many more children.

Davie County Schools found similar results to those experienced by Brunswick County Public Schools (report) and Carteret County Schools (report) in partnerships with The Hill Center between 2008-2012, as reported by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s Watson School of Education. Link to the hill site

children.

HILLRAP II (2007-2010)

On the heels of successful HELP and HillRAP I partnerships with The Hill Center and Davie County Schools, the Mebane Foundation made an additional commitment in 2007 of nearly $1 million for the design and implementation of a reading comprehension program, HillRAP II, for 6th-8th graders. In keeping with its efforts to involve community commitment and participation that ensure long-term sustainability, the Foundation used its funding as a challenge to the Davie County Commissioners, who, in a unanimous vote, approved $1 million to fund the program along with 80 SMART Boards, six more audio-visual (distant learning) classrooms and the last of six pre-K technology-enhanced classrooms.

rap2

Twenty-one teachers from Davie County’s three middle schools participated in a 3-day training offered by Hill Center staff in August 2008. The training included a 1-day training in Phonics Breaking the Code, a 2-day HillRAP workshop, and two half-day follow-up workshops. In addition, training was offered on the Hill Center’s Reading Assessment instrument, which helps create a profile of strengths and difficulties and allows the teacher to start instruction at the most appropriate level for each student. The grant also involved training three Davie County teachers in both HillRAP I and HillRAP II methodologies, providing mentors in the school system to help maintain the project after Foundation funding and external Hill Center training were no longer available.

Implemented in the fall of 2008, HillRAP II focused on middle-school students with reading disabilities and featured an additional reading-comprehension component.

A Duke University study in June 2011 (hill center site) found that HillRAP II improved the reading proficiency of struggling readers and began to close the gap between these students and their peers on a state-mandated achievement test (i.e., EOG) and a nationally-normed achievement test (i.e., WJ-III).

Mebane Masters Program

Initiated through its $750,000 challenge grant and a vision for enhanced learning through far more effective use of technology, the Mebane Foundation collaborated with Davie County Schools and Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education to create a first-of-its-kind academic degree for 15 Davie County teachers and a profoundly innovative and extravagantly successful program of interactive technology they helped implement in 100 percent of the school system’s classrooms.

mebane-mastersThe program, Mebane Masters, has changed the face of education in Davie County, grades K-12, since it was launched in 2008. Providing a holistic method of teaching to technology savvy students, Mebane Masters has earned overwhelmingly positive responses from students, teachers, administrators and community.

The core of the program was a 30-month partnership between Davie County Schools and the ASU Reich College of Education. The 15 teachers in the program remained in their Davie County classrooms while pursuing their Master of Arts Degrees in Instructional Technology. They acted as the school’s primary resource for their peers when it came to questions about the best and most pragmatic ways to maximize technology’s benefit in the classroom. It was our first look at real-time, teacher-driven, in-house professional development.

mebane-masters2The student-teacher component became another crucial piece of the Mebane Masters Program. Over five semesters in 2½ years, 60 Appalachian student teachers were housed in Davie County, spending their 15-week semester paired with one of the 15 master teachers. The technology-rich environment laced with a palpable innovative spirit created an intensive learning environment for Davie students, student teachers and master teachers.

Most of these master teachers remain in Davie County and embrace their professional-development roles. Also, many of the student teachers who rotated through the program have decided to teach in the Davie County Schools.

In summary, the Mebane Masters Program…

  • Substantially improved education for students in every classroom at every grade level throughout Davie County Schools;
  • Created a powerful, new model for teacher education and professional development;
  • Made it much easier for Davie County Schools to recruit and retain the best teachers;
  • Laid the groundwork for STEM Infusion.

It is our hope that Mebane Masters Program has created a model for teaching, learning and professional development that can reshape the educational landscape and address many of the issues facing public education in our state and nation.

Mebane Technology Challenge

Launched in 2004, the Mebane Technology Challenge was not only delivered cutting-edge technology to every classroom in Davie County Schools, but it also brought the community together to achieve a vitally important common goal – improving education for thousands of children throughout the county while at the same time ensuring the effort would be sustained through ongoing support.

tech-challengeIn 2004, the Mebane Foundation issued a challenge: If the county could raise $1.5 million from individuals, companies and civic groups, then the Foundation would contribute $750,000 over a three-year period to add the best educational technology to classrooms in every school across the county.

By the fall of 2007, without any government/taxpayer funding, the community had raised more than $1.5 million and Mebane Foundation had completed its match. Those funds provided teachers in all but 80 of the school system’s 500 classrooms had SMART Board technology, projectors and laptop computers… plus pre-K classrooms in five of the six elementary schools.

Seeing the excitement among students and teachers as well as the enhanced educational environments created by the technology, Davie County Commissioners voted unanimously to spend $1 million to pay for the remaining SMART Boards, six new audio-visual (distant learning) classrooms, a technology rich professional-development hub for training teachers and the last of the six pre-K, technology-enhanced classrooms.

tech-challenge2By then technology was transforming education for students in every classroom in every school. Perhaps the most significant result of the across-the-board SMART Board infusion was the well-documented interactive learning that had taken root across Davie County – and the elimination of virtually all disciplinary problems in classrooms. The children were visually stimulated and engaged in learning as never before.

Another positive result was that teachers, many who had resisted integrating computers into their lessons, were buying into the new pedagogy and becoming eager to learn more computer/SMART Board applications.

Finally, having technology – and enthusiasm for it – in all classrooms laid the foundation for the innovative professional-development models to come through Foundation initiatives: MEBANE MASTERS and STEM INFUSION.

Cooleemee Reading Project

Davie County’s Cooleemee Elementary had an enrollment of 520 students in kindergarten through the fifth grades in February 2009, and 72-73 percent of them were considered “Economically Disadvantaged” (receiving free and reduced-price lunches) by the State of North Carolina. Statistically, students who fall into that category are more likely to be academically at risk. Report card grades and standardized tests confirm that risk. The previous year,  Cooleemee Elementary did not make Acceptable Yearly Progress (AYP) in math under the No Child Left Behind federal legislation, and the students struggled to meet local standards as well.

cooleemee

From 2009-2011, the Mebane Foundation partnered with Cooleemee Elementary and Davie County Schools to help fund a systematic intervention program featuring diagnostic and prescriptive research-based programs delivered by computer – Waterford software for kindergarten students and Successmaker for the older children. In addition, teachers also employed comprehensive reading intervention strategies using The Hill Center RAP model. Student’s On-Going Achievement in Reading (SOAR) was added during the summer reading program.

In each lab, the program coordinator provided continuity, monitored students and provided technical support as needed. She was also responsible for generating and reviewing reports with teachers after every five lessons. The reports, which provided information about individual students and the entire class, were used to direct the complete intervention strategy, including instructional planning. Successmaker and Waterford reports, including grade-level equivalency, were also sent to parents with quarterly report cards and with progress reports mid-quarter. The frequent assessments provided a variety of helpful data about student progress. The assessments were also prescriptive, offering clear direction about areas needing improvement before end-of-year standardized tests.

The summer reading program ran for three weeks and provided three hours of small-group or individual reading instruction each day along with free breakfasts and lunches through Child Nutrition. During the summer, when many students regress in their academic skills, Cooleemee students demonstrated growth that continued into the school year.

Each of these programs and interventions provided another layer of support for the students, and each layer offered an opportunity to bring students closer to increased academic achievement and a more promising future.

The Summer Reading Program at Cooleemee was a tremendous success! We achieved the initial goals 1) to increase student achievement in this academically-challenged school; and 2) to provide a successful working model that could be implemented throughout the other Davie County elementary schools.

But challenges remained, exacerbated by the continued economic downturn of the area. They are reflected in the increasing populations of Cooleemee at-risk students:

  • Of the 452 students enrolled during 2010-2011, 83% (382 students) were Economically Disadvantaged;
  • An average of 185 students received Book Bags for Hope weekly;
  • Of the 22.8% Hispanic population (105 students) in the school, 13.2% (61 students) were served in the English Language Learners’ program because of a language barrier to their learning.
  • A comparable number, 13.4% (62 students) were served in the Exceptional Children’s program because of learning difficulties.

FINAL RESULTS

Summer Reading Program

  1. Successmaker, Waterford and other researched based intervention such as Hill RAP or Hill Strategies have been used.
  2. Bus transportation for students enabled them to access the Child Nutrition Program of free breakfast and lunch before and after reading instruction.
  3. Data generated through assessments given throughout the year has been maintained to track progress. The focus of instruction continues to be for students at-risk in reading, primarily to help them improve comprehension skills. Students’ gains carry over into the regular year from the summer program.
  4. We have documented a number of success stories of students connecting in the small groups to produce a more positive, productive attitude carrying over throughout the year. We have also tracked steady gains with many students who have continued to attend the summer camps.
  5. For the first two summers, a pre-kindergarten camp has been included during the last 8-9 days of SOAR. This has proven to be very beneficial in preparing those identified as most at-risk to transition more successfully academically and socially into kindergarten, narrowing the gap with those who are more prepared.

Successmaker Computerized Program and Lab

  1. The Successmaker lab has had a tremendous impact on student learning in the school over the first two years. Benchmarks were raised during the second year, and minimum proficiency level to advance increased from 65% to 80%. The grade-level proficiency benchmark was raised to the next grade level instead of the average required to score proficient on the End-of-Grade tests.
  2. Teachers have become more attentive to data generated by Successmaker reports and how it can improve classroom instruction through literacy centers and individualized instruction.
  3. The program’s evolving effectiveness and efficiency has captured the interest of others. The school was asked to conduct a workshop for the other five elementary schools in the county focusing on the use of reports available, the additional options that had been developed, and classroom applications. Cooleemee Elementary was also asked to present its system at the North Carolina Title I Conference during the second year.
  4. Data provided by the Cumulative Gains Reports continues to indicate students are making progress at and above expected rates.

Waterford Computerized Program and Lab

  1. Scheduling for kindergarten and first grade improved in the first year, providing small-group instruction in the classrooms and researched-based instruction in the lab.
  2. Teachers wanted access to the media center stations for additional sessions to support students outside the scheduled groups who were significantly below grade level.
  3. Reports from Waterford matched indicators from the classroom and provided information that supported classroom instruction as well as parents’ awareness of their children’s progress.