Homestead Elementary School is one of eight schools in Tennessee to earn Reading Master School status from Renaissance Learning. An assembly was held May 1 to recognize the school's students and faculty.

Sixth-grader Dylan Nelson said, "Books enchant the mind, and we absorb ourselves into another world."

Fourth-grader Alex Tollett said, "AR [Accelerated Reader — a program of Renaissance Learning] is exciting, and books take me on adventures that inspire me to read more."

Local officials attending the event were County Mayor Brock Hill, Robert Safdie, 2nd District Board of Education representative, and Shirley Parris, 3rd District Board of Education representative.

Parris said, "I'm so glad to have a Master School in my district."

Principal Aarona VanWinkle and Vice Principal Robin Brown recognized the teachers and students who earned Model and Master Classroom.

VanWinkle said, "Our mission statement at Homestead is, 'We take responsibility to become lifelong learners.' There is no better way to become a lifelong learner than to be an avid reader. We strive hard to improve our reading skills because we firmly believe that readers are achievers. We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that our students are achievers. As Mark Twain once stated, 'One who doesn't read has no advantage over one who can't." Renaissance Learning equips us with the tools to encourage children to read and to monitor their progress. We are very proud to be recognized as a Master School for our students' reading accomplishments."

Brown added, "The Reading Renaissance theme song is 'Dreamers, Wake the Nation.' Bulldogs, you have indeed dreamed big and accomplished an awesome goal. It is an honor to work with you. You are all deserving of great rewards."

In order to earn the title of Master School, the school must first become a Master School Candidate by maintaining the following criteria for 12 weeks:

• Implementing Accelerated Reader and Renaissance best practices schoolwide.

• Implementing a majority of techniques listed on the Model Classroom checklist.

• No more than 20 percent of students average less than 85 percent correct on Reading Practice Quizzes.

• Average of points earned is at least 80 percent of the goal for the school.

• No more than 15 percent of students "at risk" (low average percent correct or low points.)

Once a school fulfills those requirements, there are additional criteria that must be maintained for 18 weeks for the Master School certification, including:

• Successful completion of one of the following: Advanced Reading Renaissance seminar, remote training, Renaissance National Conference attendance, implementation services or another pre-approved training.

• No more than 20 percent of students average less than 85 percent correct on Reading Practice Quizzes.

• Average of points earned is at least 80 percent of the goal of your school.

• No more than 15 percent of students "at risk" (low average percent correct or low points).

• Established readers as a group show improvement in their Percentile Rank and Normal Curve. Equivalent between pre- and post-tests of STAR Reading or other standardized test taken at least 18 weeks apart.

• Emergent readers as a group show improvement in their Scaled Score between pre- and post-tests of STAR Early Literacy or other standardized test taken at least 18 weeks apart.

• For classes of established readers, set and monitor goals.

• Optional — For emergent readers, work toward achieving these goals by the end of the school year: kindergarten — at least 10 percent of students certified as Independent Readers, and first grade — at least 90 percent of students certified as Independent Readers.

Some of the benefits Homestead Elementary receives as part of this certification are a Master School banner, discounts on educational materials and inclusion in the Renaissance Certification Honor Roll.

Educators at Homestead Elementary who have earned Model Classroom titles are Cynthia Webb, fourth grade, and Debbie Headrick, sixth grade.

Model and Master Classrooms at Homestead Elementary are Barbie Cokkinias, third grade; Brenda Lyon, eighth grade; Cheryl Richardson, fifth grade; Christine Loveday, fifth grade; Connie Austin, fifth grade; Jackie Hancock, first grade; Jennifer Pegram, second grade; Judith Nagdeman, third grade; Lee Houston, fourth grade; Marcia Everitt, second grade; Mary DeRossett, fifth grade; Margie Bristow, first grade; Patty Cooper, sixth grade; Storme Davis, seventh grade; Nancy McClanahan, second grade; and Susan Robinson, kindergarten.

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