By Lauryn Schroeder
Mason News staff writer
The teachers, parents and students of Mason Public Schools consider themselves fortunate to have an enhanced and unique literacy program that focuses on those struggling to read in the first grade. When the program was initiated by the Mason City School Board, North Aurelius Elementary School teacher Kristin Grattan was quick to apply for the position.
With a master’s in literacy from Michigan State University, Grattan has been teaching in Mason for 22 years, and decided to take over the new literacy program in 2004. In 2005, she was given a grant from the state of Michigan to apply to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and become a nationally certified teacher.
“It changed the way I look at teaching and learning in a big way,” said Grattan. “By applying, you have to really examine the way you teach and evaluate how you are meeting the students’ needs on a national level.”
Superintendent Mark Dillingham expressed how pleased he is with Grattan and the success of the program at the Mason School Board meeting Nov. 9. “We’re very blessed to have her expertise,” said Dillingham. “The program is money well spent to ensure our students will be reading at their own grade level and beyond.”
In addition to the guided reading lessons provided by their classroom teacher, the program involves students spending approximately 20 minutes with Grattan reading books, working with magnetic letters and doing name puzzles.
“The name puzzle gives them a minute of intense practice recognizing patterns of letters,” Grattan says. “We want everything to be fun. We want them to be engaged, and we want them to take small steps, so that they’re feeling very confident in their literacy skills,”
Students work with Grattan anywhere between 12 and 20 weeks. During which, they are assessed and evaluated on their progress every other day, to pin point what they need to improve on and track the progress they are making.
“One of the things they do is reread familiar books so they can practice and I can listen,” Grattan said. “I’m checking to see if they’re pointing crisply to their words, and I’m checking to see what their voice does.”
Grattan thoroughly enjoys seeing the progress that her students make throughout the year. By putting such a heavy emphasis on reading early on, Grattan believes the students will avoid bigger literacy problems in the future.
Photos and video of Kristin Grattan and student