Thursday, March 16, 2006

Reading Thursday: The Morning Chuckle

I couldn't resist the mental image of a Florida elementary school principal and her assistant principal riding tricycles:
The sight of Discovery Elementary School's 6-foot-tall principal on a tricycle, hunched over and pedaling, her blue sports pants hefted to her knees, was hilarious even to the grown-ups who watched her wobble across the school basketball court.

The students, of course, loved it. They giggled and guffawed, pointed and cheered. Some, holding signs, rooted instead for Susie Williamson's racing opponent, new Assistant Principal Steffan Mallory.

For moments, it seemed that Mallory, a former high-school linebacker who struggled to maneuver his own red trike, would win. But in the end, Williamson stretched out a long arm and beat him to the finish line -- an orange cone.

It was a silly sight and a silly event, but it marked an important occasion for Discovery. Williamson, who took over as principal two years ago, had promised her students that if they read 6,500 books this school year, teachers, administrators and students would face off in a series of tricycle races.

Friday afternoon, the whole school crowded around the basketball court to enjoy the prize, a relaxing end to two weeks of the older kids sitting for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

First-grade teachers competed against second-grade teachers. A reading teacher went up against a special-education teacher. Students raced adults, including one who taped a stuffed whale to her seat for extra padding.

Some of the kids said they wanted to see whether their teachers could do it. Some had expected them to topple over.

"I never knew they could move that fast . . . even for their age," said 10-year-old Alicia Zurita, a fifth-grader. "Our class was cheering on our teacher, and our teacher actually won."

Williamson said she was thrilled the event had been a motivator for her pupils. Some studies show that if children don't learn to read well in the early grades, they will struggle in middle and high school. That's why educators at Discovery and other elementary schools throughout Volusia County have gone to such lengths to find creative incentives.

Reading is rewarded with everything from bookmarks and pizza or ice cream parties at many schools to a limousine ride at Freedom Elementary and overnight campouts for Woodward Avenue Elementary students.
Sadly, in our district here in California's "Imperial" Valley, classroom teachers aren't supposed to have any fun while at school. Fun is what the kids are supposed to have.

And our elementary school administrators would never ride tricycles at school. However, there is some speculation in various faculty rooms that they may be riding them at home.
See this week's edition of The Carnival of education here and our latest posts over there.