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Sustaining a culture of reading

Perry Elementary School

Perry, NY

Perry Elementary School

Grades: Pre-K–6

July 2014 to June 2015

20,275Books Opened

10,936Books Read

2,189Hours Reading

Literacy is everyone’s business in Perry, an agricultural community in western New York State. When kids go to the grocery store, the clerk may ask about their reading activity. Members of the Rotary Club volunteer at the school and help sustain the culture of reading throughout the town. Parents are involved.

“We go out of our way to ensure that everyone knows our literacy goals,” explained Stephen Haynes, the elementary school principal, “and we revisit the urgency of reading on a daily basis.” myON® by Renaissance® expands the school’s capacity to get more books into the hands of students and families.

Engagement levels during the school’s first year with myON were impressive. Elementary students are required to read independently for 30 minutes at school and another 30 minutes at home each day. Each 30-minute segment is broken into two 15-minute “steps.” Sharing this terminology community-wide, along with the goals, sustains Perry’s culture of reading. It’s easy for adults to reinforce the message with kids simply by asking, “Did you get your steps in today?”​

Stephen Haynes, Principal

“We go out of our way to ensure that everyone knows our literacy goals, and we revisit the urgency of reading on a daily basis.”

Stephen Haynes, Principal
Perry Elementary School

Perry uses the Daily 5 framework for structured literacy time at school. Students can choose myON for two authentic independent reading activities: “listening to reading” (by turning on the optional audio) and “reading to self.” They enjoy the high-interest books with engaging graphics and stories, Haynes said, and “the great read-aloud clarity” is a definite plus. 

Students also read with myON at home all year long. With no budget for summer school, it’s especially important that they continue reading during summer break. The Perry outreach team works hard to ensure family engagement as they adapt to the community’s shifting socioeconomic and cultural demographics. Regular communication from the principal and opportunities for teaching staff to demonstrate and model myON for parents are key.

A combination of general fund dollars and parent organization support pays for the school’s myON subscription for pre-K–6. Haynes is working to increase utilization by students, parents, and staff next year, further increasing their ROI.

But their real bottom line is finding what Haynes calls “a progressive solution” to providing the right literacy resources for their students. “We live in an electronic age,” he said. “Putting electronic texts in the hands of our kids is essential.”