Fostering a Love of Reading at Opportunity Academy Middle School

When you walk down the hallway at Opportunity Academy this school year, you might overhear students talking proudly to one another about how many words they have read or see teachers modeling their love of reading.

This contagious love of literacy has been fueled by a new program that encourages students to read through monthly schoolwide reading incentives.  Students can earn some cool prizes too! Mrs. Zupko,  a Literacy Coach at Opportunity Academy, is spearheading this program.

“Last school year, we had the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, but it was not being utilized effectively by our students and teachers.  We only had students take tests sporadically and there was very little excitement around reading achievement”, explains Mrs. Zupko. “I realized that there were no incentives for students to take these AR tests, a test that tracks and measures independent reading.  My vision was to build a sense of community through competition, foster a deep love of reading, and find fun and creative ways to celebrate our students’ accomplishments when they reach their reading goals!”

Since this program launched in August 2018,  Opportunity Academy has hosted many reading incentives including, the Great Intrepid Read, the Millionaire’s Challenge, and the Tournament of Words.  Our most recent challenge saw students sprinting into Spring Break.  In this challenge , every student who read 300,000 words in 30 days received a “gold medal” and a free shoe day!  19 students achieved this goal!

Both teachers and students have seen and felt a difference this school year.  Students are more passionate about reading and there is a genuine joy of reading in the building!

Faith, a 5th grader at Opportunity Academy, has impressively read 2,000,000 words this school year!  Faith says, “ I’m really passionate about books and my favorite book I have read this year is ‘The Hate U Give’.  These reading incentives have encouraged me to read more and I’m so proud to be a member of the Millionaire’s Club.    Reading a lot makes me a stronger reader and that’s helping me do better in all my classes.  I now really understand the word problems in math class”.

Faith is one of 16 students in the Millionaire’s Club.  This club meets once a month after school to eat pizza, celebrate their love of reading, and assist Mrs. Zupko with various projects that benefit the school community.  Last month, they organized and sorted books and replenished all classroom libraries.

“We help make the school a better place.  We get to be part of the solution by making a difference and helping to change things”, explains Efe, a 7th grade member of the Millionaire’s Club.