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Book Buddies not cut from school, says principal

Published 2:39pm Wednesday, August 7, 2013

FRANKLIN—S.P. Morton Elementary School Principal Dr. Debbie Harris Rollins said Tuesday she wants to assure people that the Book Buddies and Book Mice programs at the school have not been shut down, but that the programs admittedly do look different.

This statement comes in response to a letter to the editor published in The Tidewater News (“Bring back The Book Buddy Volunteer Program” Sunday, Aug. 4). In her letter, Faith D. Atkinson of Franklin expressed concerned the school had closed the first-grade program.

The Book Buddy program, which began in 2001, assigns an adult volunteer with a student in first- or second-grade who’s having difficulty learning to read. They would meet a couple of times a week and during the sessions review lesson plans intended for that child.

Kindergarteners are the focus for the Book Mice program.

“We have confidence in the programs,” Rollins said.

“We look at every way to strengthen test scores in reading,” she said. For example, this year the school is adding another reading specialist to the faculty.

For Book Buddies and Book Mice, Rollins said, there have been two paid literacy coordinators, who handle the volunteers.

“I reassigned one of the coordinators to fill other duties,” she said, adding that person is working at an iStation, which is an online reading tutorial requiring instruction and assessment. Rollins said she’s able tell whether or not students are concentrating on the course or just clicking their way through, so she wants that person to ensure “it’s done with fidelity.”

Any rumor that the program is closed is incorrect, said Franklin City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle, who also assures the programs have been restructured, “but by no means eliminated.”

Belle said she would welcome volunteers to also help coordinate Book Buddies and Book Mice.

“The bottom line is it’s about the children and the benefit of the program to the children,” she said, and added, “We’re very excited about the reading specialist (at S.P. Morton) to work directly with children.”

  • DBenton

    I see the words “reassigned” and “restructured” quoted from two administrators in this article in reference to the changes that have been made in the Book Buddies / Book Mice program. So, TNews – it is time for you to write a clearer story that explains what exactly the “restructured” program will look like this coming year. Don’t keep your readers guessing. Will we still have Book Buddies available at two different grade levels for children needing extra assistance, or will the Book Buddies only be available to students of a single grade level? Come on, guys! Thanks for making this story as clear as mud for parents who are wondering what the new school year will bring for their children.
    Any chance for a follow up story that details what the revamped program will look like?

    And sgeary – where do you get the idea that the editorial writer was firing off false and inaccurate information? This TN story speaks to the very fact that there HAVE BEEN plans made for significant changes to the program. Do you, or anyone else know precisely what those adjustments will be at this point? I’d bet you don’t know. Sounds to me like Ms. Atkinson is on point, and you are way off base.

    David Benton

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  • shocked

    WOW! It’s amazing what one can find out if he/she takes the time to ask the principal rather than listening to gossip!! SMH!

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  • JustWondering

    I will just make one comment here for this article and the one about Dr. Harris-Rollins staying in Franklin. Any wonder now why the woman seriously considered leaving? This Book Buddies thing is just one example of WHY and a perfect reason why NOW is the time for Franklin to STOP doing what it does to good people – chasing them away. So many things have amazed me about Dr. Harris-Rollins during the past year and one of them has been how she is available for people – teachers, parents, and students. You probably could have just asked her about Book Buddies and I’ll bet she would have told you the reasons for the changes. But I’m telling you day after day that woman has been amazing in the face of all kinds of lies, but even she surely has her limits. Franklin, if you really want to see the school do better, and if you really care about children then stop this kind of stuff and support this principal – and the other principals as well.

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  • sgeary

    Where is our friend who fired off the scathing editorial with completley false and inaccurate information? Don’t you have something to say?

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