Congratulations to Pathways Elementary School on being selected as a recipient of the Exemplary Reading Program Award by the International Reading Association for 2000. Pathways is a three year old school situated in northeast Volusia County. It serves 600 students in pre-kindergarten through grade five.
What makes Pathways Elementary so unique? Mary Diaz, Volusia County Reading Supervisor, states "They do all the things we would like to see in all schools." Pathways is proud of its Reading/Writing (Literacy) Program which encompasses five main objectives: 1) to improve literacy for every child, 2) to connect reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, 3) to encourage reading outside the school house, 4) to demonstrate life-long reading while creating a personal literacy plan for every child, and 5) to monitor literacy progress for every child using a variety of assessment tools and feedback systems. Parents, district staff members, instructional and non-instructional staff members and students comprised a Literacy Team that developed their school literacy program. Each child has a Personalized Literacy Plan that includes assessment, analysis of the findings, a written plan addressing areas of need, and a system to monitor progress. As a parent shared, "They enforce my child's abilities - not disabilities."
Whole group activities, small group activities, and one-on-one individual reading time with each child are all incorporated into the school-wide reading plan. To maintain a small pupil-teacher ratio, parents, community volunteers, and senior citizens can be found working with the reading program after receiving training in reading techniques by the Literacy Resource Teacher.
Teamwork is one of the key elements to the success of Pathways' program. All teachers participate in literacy instruction in agri-science, children listen to stories and are challenged with higher order thinking questions in preparation for FCAT. Students begin each day with a math problem that they must solve and explain in a narrative form. The PTA operates a "Publishing Room" where original student stories are published into books for the children. These original works are shared at Writer's Celebrations and Reflections Nights where students exchange "author readings".
The Pathways team earned grants for literacy from the Rotary International, Florida Power and Light, Newspaper in Education, Eastman Kodak and Sports Illustrated for Kids. The Florida Department of Education has awarded a School-To-Work grant to the school. Pizza Hut encourages readers with its national "Book-It" program and the local Cracker Barrel displays students' original stories and accompanying art work in the restaurant monthly, as well as donating gift certificates. Outback Steak House invites an outstanding reader and his or her parents for dinner once a month.
Are the students at Pathways responding? You bet! Students check out approximately 3,200 books monthly. The school outscored the state FCAT mean reading AND mathematics scores by 21 points on each test in 1998-99 and they outscored thier district on the CTBS by a substantial margin in grades 2, 4 and 5 in reading and mathematics during the 1998-99 testing year. These high test scores earned Pathways the A+ designation from from the State Department of Education.
Is Pathways resting on its outstanding achievements? Not likely! They are striving to improve their program daily under the rallying cry of "Learning to become a better reader never stops!"