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Westside teachers are model readers

There are 1,529 schools in the state of Alabama, and only four of those have earned the title of Master School through the Reading Renaissance program. Westside Elementary School is one of those schools.

Within the school last year, 15 teachers earned the Master Teacher designation and 18 were deemed Model Teachers.

“To become a master or model teacher, those teachers have to maintain certain standards for 12 weeks for a model teacher and 18 weeks for a master teacher,” Tracy Stewart, a teacher at Westside said. ”

The standards, which are applied to the class as a whole, include reading for 60 minutes a day, correctly answering 85 percent of the accelerated reading (AR) test, taking an ample number of AR tests and reaching their individual 9-week goals.

“Those goals are based on the number of points they want to get and their reading level,” Stewart explained.

So far, 10 teachers at Westside have earned the model teacher designation this year. The school will reach it’s 18th week this week, meaning many of those teachers will move up to the master teacher ranking by next week.

“We have at least seven that will more than likely make the master teacher level,” Stewart said. She said meeting and maintaining the Reading Renaissance standards is not easy, particularly the requirement of 60 minutes of reading a day, but the Westside teachers have come up with innovative ways to attain that hour of reading.

“We have WesTime – We enjoy stories -and we have weekly classroom stories,” Stewart said. Those students who earn the time can also go and read in the second-grade reading area. The reading area, located at the entrance to the 400 building, is set up with books, bean bags and a couch. Students can go there by themselves and spend time reading.

“We also have a reading resource room where teachers can check out sets of books for the class and each room has a reading center,” Stewart said. Additionally, the school library and public library offer books on the AR list.

“Each classroom has its own library too,” Stewart said. “And all three computer labs have reading that goes on each day.”

In fact, the school now has a Web site where parents can access the AR reading list in order to see what their children are reading and assist them in finding books when the children are not in school.

“Parents can search for titles on our Web site, www.westsideelementary.org,” Stewart said. “They can search by book title, book level or author’s name.”

Teachers making the model class mark are: Dee Roark, Jennifer Pruett, Lynn Brasfield, Andrea Dunn, Becky Holley, Michele Tangle, Patsy Cullum, Dianne McNeill, Elizabeth Renner and Vicki Kelley.