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Giving parents the tools they need to help their children become good readers is a vital part of the mission of this reading interventionist.
This subscriber spotlight is based on an interview with Teri Nieveen, Reading Interventionist at Freeman Public Schools in Adams, Nebraska.
Higher expectations statewide for the reading ability of young students in recent years is a primary consideration of this seasoned educator from the Midwest.
Thirty miles southeast of Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska, is the small town of Adams. Primarily a rural community where corn is king for the farmers in the area, it has become a bedroom community of sorts because of its proximity to the capital. Adams has a population of around 500, but it is a progressive town for its size with its own doctor’s office, pharmacy, bank, cafe, and grocery store. The majority of the people who live here are born and raised Nebraskans.
Teri Nieveen is one of those who resides in Adams and has always lived in Nebraska. She has been an educator in the Freeman Public Schools for 36 years, even teaching her own two sons, now grown, when they were in first grade. Family is very important to Teri, who eagerly shares a photo of her family and has unmistakable pride in her voice when she mentions her sons and two young grandchildren.
The importance of family to her both personally and professionally is what guides her work as a reading interventionist for the school system. She also manages the Title I Reading Program and is the district assessment contact person for the state when testing time rolls around. A first-grade teacher for 20 years, followed by 10 years teaching kindergarten before assuming her current role—all in the same school district—Teri has seen a tremendous difference in education during those decades.
“We expect our kids to do so much more. Kindergarten used to be a big social time. Now we expect preschool to teach the alphabet, and our kindergartners to be prepared to start reading and writing sentences right away,” says Teri. “We have our own standards in Nebraska, but they are very similar to Common Core,” she adds.
Because of these accelerated expectations, Teri appreciates the help that the Reading Connection newsletters, both the Elementary Edition and Secondary Edition, provide. Nebraska recently passed a new reading law that requires all students from kindergarten through third grade to meet benchmarks on their reading assessments. If they don’t, they are required to receive intervention. An important section of the law requires parents to be a part of this intervention, and it’s not always easy to get parents involved, as Teri knows from experience.
And that’s where Reading Connection comes in. With the “increased emphasis on parent involvement and the challenges of making that happen,” this school year became the perfect time to subscribe, Teri said.
Freeman Public Schools has one school for Pre-K through 12th grade with 450 students from Adams and other small towns in the surrounding area and an average of 35 students per grade level. Working on the reading intervention part of her job constitutes the bulk of Teri’s days. Reading is so fundamental to student success that her role has continued to increase in importance over the years.
“There has always been a discussion about how to reach out to parents. We decided that we needed to subscribe now to Reading Connection as a way to at least give our parents some ideas about what they can be doing to help their children with the important subject of reading. We send it out to all parents, but especially hope that parents of students that need extra help will use it as an additional helpful resource,” emphasized Teri.
Teri makes sure that the Reading Connection newsletters are photocopied each month and sent home with every student. Some months Teri uses the hard copy that comes in the mail; other times she logs into the website to download the issues she needs.
“I was always intrigued when I looked at past issues and saw that they contained things parents could easily do when they were at home. You don’t have to go out and buy something in most cases. It’s something practical that parents can pick up quickly and do, yet easily understand what they are doing and how to do it,” said Teri. “We appreciate that because we don’t want to do something that’s complicated for a parent to understand—or they will not do it!” she emphasized.
Given her depth of experience as an educator and her practical experience as a parent, Teri is concerned about where technology has taken us as a society, and about the increased importance of teaching children how to communicate with each other and learn how to do things without using screens. She considers her work at the elementary level vital to building a foundation for young people to help them succeed throughout their lives, and she looks forward to Reading Connection helping in that effort. Though she has only subscribed since September of this school year, she likes what she has seen so far! And she looks forward to using Reading Connection to continue the important job of helping parents create a joy of reading in their youngsters.
For more information on the Reading Connection newsletters, see rfeonline.com/reading
We’d love to find out more about what you are doing at your school and how our publications help you fulfill your mission. Contact our Fulfillment Manager, Carol Ann Fox, to arrange for a time to chat. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her directly at 540-636-4612. She’ll make sure we see you and your school in a future Subscriber Spotlight!
Freeman Public Schools, Adams, Nebraska
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Past Subscriber Spotlight: