Hungry Valley Summer Reading Program draws influx of students
This story was first published in the July 2017 edition of First Nation’s Focus.
Learn moreVisit bit.ly/2tuyqkU to read more about the K-12 Education Program at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.
RENO, Nev. — The Summer Reading Program in Hungry Valley, Nevada, hopes to bridge the gap during summer break so students won’t lose what they learned over the school year.
The program — taking place across June, July and August of 2017 — is broken up into two three-week-long sessions, and over 45 students have signed up to attend for 2017.
It was implemented three years ago because the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Education Department wants to improve student test scores over summer breaks, said Naomi Hanczrik, Student Family Support Advocate with RSIC.
“The majority of our kids have been scoring below reading and comprehension levels,” Hanczrik said in an interview with First Nation’s Focus during one of the program’s sessions on June 21. “I hope we can continue this program every year so it can become a big success for the summers to come.”
The mission of the RSIC’s K-12 Education Program is to “prepare and promote the best possible educational opportunities for all students of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.”
Third-grade reading levels
The Nevada “Read by Grade Three” law (SB 391) requires all Silver State students to read proficiently by the completion of third grade.
Among other things, the law requires certain interventions for pupils enrolled in kindergarten or grade 1, 2 or 3 who do not achieve adequate proficiency in reading; and it prohibits a public school from promoting a pupil to grade 4 if the pupil does not achieve proficiency in reading.
According to the Clark County School District, SB 391 includes retention requirements for students who have not met a proficiency level in reading by the end of third grade. However, retentions will not occur until July 1, 2019, and the first group of students who will be retained under this law include the kindergarten class of 2015-2016.
The first year of retention under SB 391 will occur during the 2019-2020 school year, when that particular group completes the third grade.
“The Read by Three law has brought more anxiety to families,” said Rhea Brown, Special Education Teacher at Jesse Hall Elementary School in Sparks. “Students have to become better readers, and this summer reading program helps the students to achieve that.”
Becoming better readers
The Hungry Valley Education department has seen a surge in students who attend the program since the passing of the new law.
“We have a good turnout this year,” said Alice Wrenn, an in-school tutor for the RSIC Education department. “Usually, we only get 14 students. This year, we have 45 students signed up.”
With the new law in place, RSIC has invited additional teachers to the summer program for the first time to help with reading and comprehension.
“This program will help bridge the gap so kids won’t lose what they learned over the school year,” said Jessica Stepaniak, teacher at Lois Allen Elementary School in Sun Valley. “We have, what I call, bubble kids. These are kids who are right below their level and just need that extra push to get them where they need to be.”
Having the students in a smaller and more intimate environment helps to push them to the level they need to be — and in some cases excel beyond — because each student gets more one-on-one time, Stepaniak said.
Programs like this encourage students to want to learn and expand their love for knowledge.
“The only way you can become a better reader is by reading,” said Brown. “By having programs like this it gives kids a leg up and they become better readers.”
Jarrette Werk (Aaniiih) is a journalism student at the University of Nevada, Reno, who worked this summer for the Sierra Nevada Media Group as an intern, writing and taking photos for First Nation’s Focus.
AB264 was just one of eight Tribal-related bills that have either been signed into law this session, or were adopted by the Legislature and await Sisolak’s approval, highlighting one of the most successful legislative sessions in the history of Nevada in terms of Native American affairs.