Reading is on the rise at Brockbank Jr. High School. Since 2009, library circulations have steadily increased, peaking at nearly 19,000 per year.
Administrators at Brockbank credit much the surge to one man in particular: Library Media Specialist Dean Bressler. Here’s the story from Brockbank English teacher Lisa Shafer:
One of the biggest influences on making reading “cool” is Dean Bressler, the media specialist.
Mr. Bressler had already been teaching social studies at Brockbank for several years when he took over as media specialist in the 2008-2009 school year, so he knew the community well. By extending the times that the media center was open to students and by creating fun reading contests, he was able to increase the circulation of library books dramatically. In fact, the circulation for only the first half of the 2014-2015 school year is nearly equal to the total circulation from the year before Mr. Bressler applied his skills to getting more kids to read.
The most popular contests in the Brockbank Media Center are the Books of the Month and the Reading Passports. Each month, a new Book of the Month is chosen. Students who read the book and pass the AR (Accelerated Reader) test on it earn candy immediately, and their names go into a drawing for big prizes (such as an iPod or a Kindle) at the end of each semester. For the Reading Passports, students read nine AR books of their choice and pass the quizzes, keeping track on a bingo card-like paper called the “passport.” Upon completion of the ninth quiz, students earn candy, a free assignment card, and a brand-new book of their choice purchased for them
This year Bressler and media assistants Kathy Andreason and Amy Fendley have added even more excitement to the competition by dubbing each grade level a ‘House of Hogwarts’ from the Harry Potter series. Seventh grade is ‘Hufflepuff,’ eighth grade is ‘Ravenclaw,’ and ninth grade is ‘Gryffindor.’ Faculty and staff members are part of ‘Slytherin.’
The media center windows are now covered with diploma-like passports of each term’s participants in their appropriate ‘Houses.’ Each quarter, the passport holders of the winning house are invited to a pizza party to honor their accomplishments.
Is it any wonder that Brockbank has fewer and fewer reluctant readers when reading is this much fun?