Kelley Gray, who will once again teach Reading 180 at Greene County High School, will also be teaching some creative writing courses.
This is Gray’s second year at the high school, coming to Greene County High School out of Simpson College in Indianola. She graduated with a degree in English, with a secondary education minor.
Gray believes that, as a teacher, she must first make connections and build a relationship with each student before that student is open to learning.
“A lot of students maybe don’t have the connections at home that allows them to focus on their education or making good choices, so building relationships and connections need to be done before I can teach them grammar and reading,” she says.
That’s particularly important for students in her Reading 180 class. Students who are in the class need extra time and help with reading. Some students arrive at the class without having ever read any kind of book on their own, only books they struggled through because they were required to read as a class course.
“I don’t think people realize just how many students struggle to read,” she says. “It is hard for a student to be successful in school when the student can’t read or read well.”
That’s the big reason Greene County School District is putting an emphasis on reading as a core skill.
Gray works at putting the emphasis on students developing a love for reading. That means finding books at their reading level that are interesting to them.
“My hope is that the interest will lead to more desire to read better,” she says. “I take finding the right books for each students as a challenge. The district has been very good about ordering books I need. I also scour garage sales, and if I find a book I think would appeal to one of the students, I’ll get it for him. For example, I know one student is into motorcycles, so I found a book on motorcycles for him to read.
“It was amazing what my students improve,” she says of last year. Some of them would bump up three to four grade levels in one year.
“When I see students who never read books for pleasure, later in the year asking if they can take books home with them, it is a great feeling,” Gray says.