Summer reading program designed to help homeless students - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Summer reading program designed to help homeless students

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- JCPS is taking summer school to Louisville-area homeless shelters.  Teachers are trying to reach a class of students that is far bigger than many of us would ever know.

A small workroom in Hotel Louisville has become Michael Peake's summer classroom.  Myers Middles School teacher Sandy Bussell told him during one lesson, "If there are any words you don't know, underline or circle them."

The TJ Middle School student admits he rather be doing just about anything else:  "Swimming pool, basketball," he says.  But the 12 -year old has big dreams, including being, "a game designer with my cousin."

He also knows that classwork could help him achieve those dreams.  "When I read," he says, "if I have something important to do I just keep reading and mess up in my head."

JCPS launched an intensive summer reading program this year that goes into six area homeless shelters.  Teachers work with up 150 children just like Michael, in small groups and one-on-one settings.

Bussell explains, "The way the program works, is we are focusing on what level they're on and then moving them along as far as we can in the time that we have."  Teachers are focusing on reading comprehension, fluency, and grammar to ultimately improve test scores in failing schools.

Bussell says, "We have to make sure that even over the summer months that they're not losing what they've learned.  A statistic just came out that says children who live in poverty, one out of four are below grade level."

JCPS has identified more than 12,000 of its students as homeless.  Asst. Supt. John Marshall of JCPS Diversity Equity & Poverty says, "If we had it our way we'd have classrooms in every shelter and in every school open so we can address this."

It's addressing a problem for some that their parents cannot fix.  Nina Moseley of Wayside Christian Mission says, "A lot of our parents want the best for their kids.  However, they may not have finished school themselves or have great reading skills to help the children."

Michael Peaks already reads at age level and he says by the end of this summer he'll be ready to attack the 7th grade.  "When I read," he says, "it's helping me get better with bigger words that I couldn't understand."

The Summer Reading Institute runs through July 11th.  The district already plans to expand it next year.

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