Summer Program Helps Biloxi Students Overcome Reading Obstacles

Melonie Corso is using a phonics program called "Project Read" to help her students understand word patterns. Corso is one of 24 teachers in the summer reading program at Dukate Elementary in Biloxi.

Corso says Project Read is a hands-on, multi-sensory approach to reading. It focuses on all five senses, and hits upon skills that the students probably did not get to start with. Another teacher, Debbie Girouard, says the program gives students a lot of projects so they can manipulate letters, sounds and writing. They put it all together, much like putting the pieces of a puzzle together.

Breann Shaughnessy is one of the students who had trouble with reading. Shaughnessy says she was very frustrated because she couldn't get the words right or spell them. When reading books, she couldn't recognize the words.

Students who are in the program have a "C" or below average in Reading. Teachers say having this program during the summer gives those students more time, plus more individualized attention, so they can catch up.

Melonie Corso says there's a lot of one-on-one time, small group time, so they can focus on the skills that they probably needed more practice with or missed during the school year.

Breann Shaughnessy says she has learned hard words and how to spell them. She feels happy because she is a better reader now and getting good grades. And that's the confidence these students need, when they go back to school in the Fall.

Only elementary students who are falling behind in reading, are invited to participate in the summer reading program.  Students get free transportation and supplies.  The program is funded by Biloxi Schools and the Biloxi Community Development Block Grant.

By: Trang Pham-Bui