Armed with the book “Monte and the World of Possibilities,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert opened up global prospects for a class of upstart readers at Midvalley Elementary.
Herbert visited the elementary school recently to read to students and to impress upon them the importance of reading, especially in the formative years. Reading, he told them, is imperative to learning to master such other topics as science and math.
“I hope everyone here understand the importance of reading,” he said. “If you want to have a good job, you have to have a good education. If you can’t read, it makes life very difficult.”
The visit to the school was a Herbert whistlestop to announce that $3 million in ongoing grant money from the grant “Read. Graduate. Succeed.” would continue to be funneled into Utah schools to improve literacy rates. Midvalley Elementary was chosen for the event because of the skyrocketing literacy rates that have been attributed to the involvement of AmeriCorps volunteers at the school.
The event also was supported by KSL-TV. Anchor Deanie Wimmer read to students and engaged them in a game in which they had to guess the names of popular books after she’d scrambled the words of the title.
The appearance was the second of three Herbert made in Canyons District that week. At the first event on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Edwards Lifesciences in Draper, Herbert heralded the launch of a medical innovations emphasis where, on top of regular science courses, students, working with commercial drug and device makers, will learn manufacturing and bio-manufacturing principles. Students at Jordan High will be able to start the program next year. On Thursday, Sept. 29, he helped cut the ribbon at Cottonwood Heights’ fete to cheer the opening of a new City Hall. Brighton Madrigals and band contributed their musical stylings
Midvalley Principal Jeff Nalwalker points to student achievement data as proof. Assessments show that, after intensive support from the dedicated teachers and AmeriCorps volunteers who use the “Read Today” program, students increased their word-per-minute reading skills.
Nalwalker notes that reasonable growth for fourth-grade is 0.85 words-per-minute per week and reasonable growth for fifth-graders is 0.50 words-per-minute per week. During the last year, fourth-graders logged 1.58 words-per-minute growth per week, and fifth-graders logged 1.00 words-per-minute growth per week.
“One of the best things about our state is that we know how to work together. There is a spirit of collaboration,” Herbert said. “This collaboration is one of the successes we see in our schools … You will be more effective leaders (in the future) if you are good readers.”