As we sat in a classroom, Pass Christian Elementary second graders recited the sounds and the words written on their teacher's note cards. The reading skills we observed are an example of what teachers at both this school and at Delisle Elementary School expect from their students.
Meredith Bang is Delisle's reading cadre. He said, "We believe that in order to ensure the success of children in reading so that they're reading on grade level by the end of third grade, we need to start early."
So the Pass Christian teachers developed a new reading approach. And that required new money. So both schools applied for and received a reading excellence education grants. "We know the value of literacy already," Bang said. "But we certainly feel that the grant opens up doors of opportunities for us that wouldn't be opened otherwise."
Because of the $619,000 grant for Pass Christian Elementary and the $604,000 grant for Delisle Elementary School, the schools will be able to hire new teachers, buy almost 100 new computers and offer student programs like tutoring. According to Pass Christian Elementary reading cadre Doris Flettrich, tutoring will let students "stay after school and get the one-on-one intense sort of attention that they need to be successful readers."
When she talked about the grant money, Pass Christian Elementary School Principal Lettie Burger said, "That's the whole purpose of the grant, to ensure that our students will read by the end of third grade."
That's always been the goal at Pass Christian. Now administrators say they have the grant money, and consequently the programs in place, to make that reading goal a reality.
Fifty three other Mississippi schools received similar reading excellence grants. The Pass Christian schools have until June 2003 to use their grant money.