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TES first graders say: ‘I can read!’

Staff Writer

"I can read!"

Those three words are likely to be heard over and over at Troy Elementary School this week.

For several years, teachers have used The Messenger

to eliminate some of the fear of first grade by showing their new students they really can read.

This year close to 230 first graders will be handed newspapers on Wednesday and given the assignment of finding the "I can read" boxes hidden among the ads and stories.

"It makes them feel good about themselves," said Connie McCrary, one of the 12 first grade teachers at TES.

McCrary said the "I can read" program is a good way to kick off the year because everyone finishes the assignment with success.

"If you think you can do something, you can," is the philosophy adopted by the TES teachers and purpose of the exercise.

McCrary said teachers have also created bulletin boards in their classroom. They have different items the students are sure to recognize displayed.

"These are things we know they can already read," McCrary said of the bulletin board that will feature everything from McDonald’s and candy wrappers to stop signs and other environmental print.

By the time each student has been quizzed, everyone will likely have found several things he or she recognizes, McCrary said.

Many of the students are also likely to recognize more than just the "I can read" boxes in the newspaper.

"Sometimes they recognize people they know in the paper," McCrary said.

Those students who are better readers will also be challenged to find "Troy" and other familiar words throughout the paper.

In other "words," the first grade classrooms will be carpeted with newspapers and students who "can read" today.

The "I can read" program is more than "print awareness." It’s somewhat of a safety net and gets the school off to a better start than handing out list of words on the first day of school and telling the students to learn them.

Rick Reynolds, publisher of The Messenger, said he is glad to be able to work with the teachers and students at Troy Elementary through the "I can read" program.

"Good reading habits are fundamental to the entire education process," Reynolds said. "I

appreciate the great job our local first grade teachers do in initiating this reading program and I appreciate them allowing The Messenger to play a role in jump-starting young readers."