10 South MS schools receive grants to target struggling readers

10 South MS schools receive grants to target struggling readers

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Ten South Mississippi schools will be getting some funds to help third graders who are struggling to read. On Friday, the state Board of Education awarded $1.47 million in grants to help 34 schools meet the state's new reading requirements.

Escatawpa Upper Elementary is one of the recipients. A friendly game of Jeopardy helped a class of third graders prepare for their reading test Friday. Since August, teachers at the school have introduced all sorts of creative lessons to help the young students sharpen their reading skills.

"I'm trying to get them there the best way I can. I do task cards with them. I do centers with them. I keep them one-on-one," said third grade teacher Quinnica Odom.

Everyone knows there's a lot at stake. In April, all third graders in Mississippi must pass a state reading test in order to move on to the fourth grade.

"It's a lot of pressure on us and the students. If they don't pass their gateway, they'll stay in third grade. But the larger thing is if they don't learn to read, they'll struggle the rest of their lives," said lead teacher Kim Alda.

That's why teachers were all smiles Friday when they learned that their school will receive a $50,000 grant from the state to help boost reading skills.

"We are thrilled. We are just so lucky to get this grant. We worked really hard to get it," said Alda.

Escatawpa Upper will use the money to expand its "intervention block" from 45 minutes to 90 minutes a day.

That will allow teachers some extra time to work with struggling readers. The school will also set up a summer reading program for students who need to re-take the test. That will require hiring eight teachers, purchasing materials and providing transportation for students.

"I am so happy and so excited about this grant, because it's going to get us everything that we're going to need to help these kids so we won't have any left behind," said Odom.

The grants awarded to schools ranged from $24,000 to $50,000.

Here are the South Mississippi recipients and their school districts:

Popp's Ferry Elementary, Biloxi: $50,000

Bel Aire Elementary, Harrison County: $50,000

Burney Elementary, Hattiesburg: $25,000

Rowan Elementary, Hattiesburg: $25,000

Escatawpa Upper Elementary, Moss Point: $50,000

College Park Elementary, Pascagoula: $50,000

Gautier Elementary, Pascagoula: $50,000

DeLisle Elementary, Pass Christian: $44,585

Pearl River Central Upper Elementary: Pearl River County, $35,000

Roseland Park Elementary, Picayune: $48,209

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.