Learning to read in Maricopa schools

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Murray Siegel
Murray Siegel

For several years, emphasis has been placed on the learning of mathematics and science in the elementary grades, yet nobody disputes that the most vital subject taught in the lower grades is reading.

Kristin McMullen, the reading interventionist at Butterfield Elementary School, has a good idea as to what’s going on in literacy education in Maricopa schools.

McMullen has been at Butterfield since it opened 13 years ago, as a classroom teacher. This is her first year with primary responsibility being reading.

She feels that Butterfield, as a representative of the Maricopa Unified School District, has done an excellent job at providing a strong foundation in reading skills. She is proud of her school and notes the top three graduates in the Maricopa High School Class of 2021 began their schooling at Butterfield Elementary.

McMullen credits the quality of the primary grade teachers at Butterfield Elementary for student accomplishment in reading. Given the divergent needs of elementary students in reading, she lauds the efforts of the administration to have small groups composed of students with a similar reading level for the success that has been realized.

The “Walk to Read” program is an example of the small, homogeneous grouping which has been utilized to develop reading skills in young students.
Children would move to the classroom specified for their reading needs, allowing all students to experience success.

Current limitations due to COVID have caused this program to be canceled until those restrictions are lifted, yet other efforts are in place to enable reading progress.

McMullen’s position allows her to work with small groups of students in need of extra help to become successful readers. She sees real excitement as her students find accomplishment in her class. The gains in her classes have been seen when her students return to their regular classroom. She also is a resource for all the classroom teachers who teach reading at Butterfield Elementary School.

Another positive step taken by the school administration that is enhancing the learning of reading, is the hiring of Leah Poland as the school library aide, who has made the school library a fun place where students find interesting books available. They are eager to go to the library and generally leave with a new book to read. Residents of Maricopa should be delighted to know that a subject as important as reading is being taught successfully in our elementary schools.

Murray Siegel, Ph.D., has more than 44 years of teaching experience and volunteers at Butterfield Elementary School.

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This story was first published in the January edition of InMaricopa magazine.