Excited about reading in West Jeff


(Posted March 21, 2016)

By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

Classroom-based libraries are generating a reading frenzy at West Jefferson High School.

English teachers Jeannette Haskins and Cassie Bentley are instilling in students a love for reading through an innovative workshop.

They’ve lined bookcases in the classroom with young adult and popular fiction and non-fiction titles. Classics sit nearby present day bestsellers like “The Martian.” Each day, students are given a block of time to read whatever they choose.

“All of our students are reading some-thing different,” Haskins said during a March 14 presentation to the school board.

“They have a choice. Our students learn when they talk about what they are reading. When the conversation starts, students are sharing 15 to 20 different views. They’re doing what readers do. They talk about what they’re reading.”

Senior Nick Hayes said the classroom library—funded by a $1,500 appropriation by the school board—has encouraged him to develop a love of reading.

“I don’t think I read an entire book since middle school,” Hayes told board members. “This year, I’ve already read 11 to 12 books. I even catch myself staying after class just to finish a page. I think it’s helping me in my writing process and in broadening my vocabulary.”

Senior D.J. Braithwaite said he has read more books in the last two months than he had in his entire life to that point. Before the reading workshop, he said it would take him a month to read a book. Now, he is reading cover to cover in days.

Drew Hudson, a college freshman and West Jefferson graduate, returned to his alma mater to talk about his experience with the reading workshop.

“As a science major, I am reading every day,” he said. “In seventh grade, I didn’t read at all, but Mrs. Haskins started a passion in me that continues on today.

“A book can really tell a lot about a person. When I started reading on my own, I took learning into my own hands.”

Art accomplishments 

High school students Brie Mullins, Alyssa Rayburn and Avery Haley participated in the Governor’s Art Show competition on March 5. Mullins submitted three pieces, all of which made the Top 300 in Ohio. One piece is on display in the Rhodes Tower in Columbus. The other two were part of a group of 25 works selected for private showings in the governor’s office. Rayburn’s artwork also made it to the next level for the March 12 judging.

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