Thick books. Skinny books. Books about birds and baseball, ballerinas, and balloons. Legends and lore. Heroes and monsters, space ships and aliens, pop stars and popcorn.
Whatever the words, whatever the topic, students at Reynolds School are reading whenever possible. As they hone their reading skills, they are keeping an eye on the clock.
For these avid readers, time matters.
Each week, staff at the school, located near Reynolds Road and Airport Highway, tally up the number of minutes read and chart the progress. With the help of aunts, uncles, parents, cafeteria workers, custodians, teachers, and others in the “Reynolds family,” students are trying to reach a lofty goal: 1 million minutes.
So far, so good. Since September, students and others have logged 417,405 minutes of reading time, according to Scott TenEyck, principal. That tally does not include time spent during the school's Read-In last week. Families, children, and staff brought pillows, blankets, and reading materials to the hour-long session. Two other Read-Ins were held at the school earlier this fall.
Some parents bring work from their offices to read during the events; others bring their college homework, said Mr. TenEyck who reads aloud to groups of children or listens to students read.
The million-minutes-of-reading project is designed to promote literacy within the school, the principal said. In addition it encourages families to spend time together reading.
By improving reading skills, students can increase their math and science skills too, he pointed out.
“Math is reading, science is reading, it's all about reading,” he said.
Speaking of math, a pie graph is one tool being used to chart the number of minutes read. A rocket ship is filling up as minutes are added, and a timeline stretching around the interior of the building shows the progress.
When students reach their goal - possibly sometime in late March - there will be a big reading party, Mr. TenEyck said.
The school's million-minutes committee will make the party plans, and those plans might include some special activity for the principal. Mr. TenEyck, who has been hit with whipped cream and has shaved his beard as part of rewards for student achievements, said he's game for most anything, but the “hair stays. I am not shaving my head.”
Some principals in the Toledo area do some strange things to reward students. Officials have been known to kiss pigs, dine on rooftops, and wear silly costumes to promote reading. A few have shaved their heads or colored their hair.
To keep students interested in the reading project, Mr. TenEyck each week announces totals and tells them that they are doing a “great job. I try to pump it up.”
Reynolds School has 540 students in K-6.
Posters to promote reading were purchased to spark interest in books, magazines, and other written materials.
This is the first time the school has set a goal of 1 million minutes - nearly 17,000 hours of reading. “We wanted to make it challenging, but something we could achieve,” the principal said.