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Reading Recovery rescues SD children's literacy levels

DEADWOOD -- Sometimes all it takes is for someone to believe in you. Especially when it comes to mastering an all-important life skill that some kids struggle at, like reading.

"Our number one goal is to prevent literacy failure," said Lead-Deadwood Elementary reading recovery teacher Shannon Mollman.

Over the past seven years, nearly 100 first grade students were given a gift they may not have otherwise received had they not been enrolled in Lead-Deadwood Elementary School -- the gift of one-on-one time with a reading recovery teacher.

It's a gift that leads to a life spent as a reader versus a kid who fell through the cracks.

On the first day of school each fall, reading recovery teachers Mollman and Suzanne Trentz begin testing first grade students in earnest, looking for gaps in alphabetics, fluency, comprehension and general reading achievement.

"They might not even know the different parts of a book, the cover, how to open it correctly, things like that," Mollman said. "They can't read, don't know their letters and their writing is usually very low too. Their early reading behaviors are not established, there are not a lot of concrete things established and it's limiting their progress to accelerate and read."

"They just haven't had a lot of 'lap time,' " Trentz said.

They're the lowest 20 percent of all first graders, Mollman and Trentz are working with eight for this 20-week reading recovery period.