The Wild Summer Reading Camp has been a page turner for thousands of children in Bay Village.
Former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft helped celebrate the 20th anniversary of state and local reading programs at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center on June 10.
The Bay Village schools partners with the science center on the camp, which uses tutors, hands-on experience with animals and books about animals to help struggling first- through fourth-graders learn to read. The camp is only open to Bay students referred by the district. The district pays for the students, there is no cost to parents or guardians. By the end of camp, each student will have read about 40 books.
The Bay Village camp started as part of the Ohio Reads program, which began in 1999 under Taft.
“We had major concerns that about half the children in Ohio weren’t doing well with their fourth- grade reading tests, so we began taking steps like Ohio Reads to get their reading skills up,” Taft said.
The governor and his wife, Hope, practiced what they preached and tutored a Columbus Middle School student named Brian as part of the Ohio Reads program.
“We still talk with him and we still take part in the program,” Taft said.
Jim McGlamery, the principal at Normandy Elementary School in Bay Village from 1996 through 2013, wrote the proposal that got the district the grant to start a program.
“We knew there was a need with some students and we had high hopes that it would have an impact on those students,” said McGlamery, who attended the event. “We had high hopes that it would be a long-lasting program and that’s proven to be the case.”
McGlamery has always emphasized reading, both as an educator, and in his family, said Heather Kralick, McGlamery’s daughter and now a fifth-grade teacher at Bay Middle School.
“He has always worked hard to make sure children at all levels get strong reading skills,” Kralick said. “It shows in the success he had in the district and with us. All of our family loves to read.”
Kralick and her twin daughters, Emily and Molly, 9, attended the event to support McGlamery and the program he started. Both girls said they love reading, with Emily saying her favorite book is “The One and Only Ivan” by K.A. Applegate. Molly said she favors “A Tangle of Knots” by Lisa Graff.
Students who have been in the Bay Village reading camp return to school with better skills, Kralick said.
“You can see a difference in students afterwards,” she said.
About 160 students attend the camp yearly, said Barb Marsh, the Wild Summer Reading coordinator and a Bay High School reading teacher. This year’s camp will be held July 16 through Aug. 10. The sessions last three hours daily.
“Nothing is more important to a child than learning to read,” Marsh said. “Children participating in the program retain the skills they learn in it and use them as they move forward in school.”
Gaining those skills helps them in many areas, said Bay schools Superintendent Jodie Hausmann.
“You use reading skills in all facets of education,” Hausmann said. “Students who read better have better lives.”
Judy Shaw, 73, was also honored as a top camp volunteer. Shaw was a 15-year teaching assistant in the Bay school district and has been a camp tutor and volunteer for 12 years.
“I’ve always believed in wanting to help children and this program does that,” Shaw said.
Science center Director Katherine Timko said helping children learn at the camp goes right to the heart of the center’s mission.
“It helps encourage their curiosity and energizes their learning about nature,” she said.
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