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McDaniel reading clinic fosters education, enjoyment for young students

As a part of course work, graduate students from McDaniel College work with Carroll County Public Schools children on their reading and writing skills. (Emily Chappell / Carroll County Times)

Rooms were decorated with maps and flags, Olympic rings hanging. No, the Olympics didn't come early this year to Carroll County.

It was the final week of the McDaniel College Reading Clinic, themed this year after the summer event set to start in August. The classes were held at Robert Moton Elementary School in Westminster.

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Deb Miller, program coordinator of the master's degree program for reading specialists at McDaniel, said the clinic is the second-to-last course for the graduate students and really puts into action what students have learned.

"It's practice of all the concepts and content," she said.

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The program is a joint initiative between Carroll County Public Schools and the college, she said, and it is a Title I summer school program. This is a federal program "that provides financial assistance to local school systems and schools with high percentages of poor children to support the academic achievement of disadvantaged students," according to the Maryland State Department of Education.

The students, who range in grades from third to fifth, spent the four weeks working on developing comprehension and close reading, Miller said. There was also a focus on multisyllabic words.

During the clinic, 8-year-old Aubrey Jacobs sat at her desk on a hot July Thursday, reading a book as she waited for her classmates to finish their assignment. She was reading "What If a Shark Had a Party?" a story that looks at silly possibilities about a shark's life, like playing tennis or using a seesaw.

That day, they worked on reading, responding to what they've read, and more.

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Aubrey said she likes all of what she's been doing in class.

That's what Ashleigh Rizzo, an instructor for the program and a teacher at Robert Moton, likes to hear.

Many of the students have said they're sad for class to be ending, Rizzo said. The program is so important, she said, because it gives attention to students who would especially benefit.

"We invite just the ones that really need the help," she said.

Ultimately, Miller said, they want to keep kids on a level where they maintain what they've learned throughout the year and don't lose that knowledge over the summer months. They also work to keep these skills developing once the program is over but before school starts in the fall.

During Wednesday of the last week, instructors gave parents a set of recommendations that mirrored what the kids did this summer, Miller said.

"Our goal is that they will then continue working," she added.

While the hope really is to maintain knowledge, if there are children who start to excel and increase in reading and writing strength, that's even better, she said.

And they're seeing progress.

Rizzo had some kids this summer who have improved their reading and writing skills during the four weeks.

"They're actually thinking during reading now," she said. "And they're enjoying it."

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