Citizen Donation Will Facilitate Reading Programs in St. Mary's - Southern Maryland Headline News

Citizen Donation Will Facilitate Reading Programs in St. Mary's


LEONARDTOWN, Md. - St. Mary's County Public Schools is the proud recipient of a $26,222.00 donation from soon-to-be citizens Pamela Harmon and Timothy Muris.

"This type of generosity is amazing and will translate to the expansion of our after school programs that will benefit many students in the area of reading""This type of generosity is amazing and will translate to the expansion of our after school programs that will benefit many students in the area of reading," said Dr. Michael J. Martirano, superintendent of schools. "We are very thankful for the contribution made by Ms. Harmon and Mr. Muris."

Ms. Harmon and Mr. Muris, who will be relocating to St. Mary's County from Virginia and have three children who benefited from attending public schools, saw the need to participate in the academic achievement of students in the local community.

"We are very excited about our move to Chaptico and we wanted to make a commitment to the county that will be our home""We are very excited about our move to Chaptico and we wanted to make a commitment to the county that will be our home," said Ms. Harmon. "Tim and I were impressed by Dr. Martirano's terrific vision for the public school system, and we wanted to play a small part. In a school system of this size, we found it easy to become involved and to interact with the school principals on a personal level. This has been a very positive experience for us."

The donation of Ms. Harmon and Mr. Muris makes it possible to implement three elementary school reading programs to provide additional learning opportunities for students at Mechanicsville, Ridge, and Dynard Elementary Schools.

Mechanicsville Elementary School will launch an intensive after school reading program for third, fourth, and fifth graders that combines Fundations, a research-based program that develops a sound-symbol relationship and the phonics skills necessary for decoding, with Reader's Theater, a series of plays that will enable students to read and apply their phonic skills to acting. Mechanicsville students in the first and second grades are having tremendous success in reading due to existing intervention programs. The goal is to duplicate this success in grades three, four, and five with the addition of this after school program.

Ridge Elementary School will also focus on an after school reading program. In their after school setting, the staff will use Fundations, Reads Naturally, and Focus on Fluency to improve the reading ability of students identified as reading below grade level. Student participation will be based on individual need rather than grade level. In previous years, Ridge was classified as a Title I school and received additional funding to meet the needs of low-performing students. This year, because of slight demographic changes, Ridge is no longer a Title I school and therefore, does not receive funding to provide additional services needed for low-performing students. The goal of this after school program is to enable students to handle the reading requirements needed to be successful in middle and high school.

At Dynard Elementary School, a number of students in grades three, four, and five missed scoring "proficient," the highest possible score, on the 2005-2006 Maryland School Assessment by less than 20 points. Dynard's goal is to improve and strengthen the reading performance of these students by offering a before school reading intervention program that combines the use of Fundations, Reads Naturally, and Rewards.

"When community members reach out to our schools and our students with their generous gifts of time and money, they truly touch the future," said Ms. Linda Dudderar, chief academic officer. "This gift will make a difference in the life of each child served in our before and after school programs at the identified schools."

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