LEWISTON — Two 12-year-old boys tutored a 9-year-old in reading Thursday on the next-to-the-last day of Longley Elementary School's six-week summer school.
The goal for the K-6 program is to prevent students from losing what they learned in the past school year.
On Thursday, Dustin Child, 9, held the book, “Ira Sleeps Over,” and read aloud.
“It was time to go to Reggie's house,” he read. “'Good night,' said his mother. 'Good night,' said his father.”
Tutor Yousif Ahmed approved. “Nice job,” he said, as the fellow tutor Muktar Ali looked on.
Dustin continued reading. Yousif coached him on the word 'sighed,' and the need to lower his voice and pause at a period. A period means the sentence “is done,” he said.
Yousif “is a good teacher. He's fun,” Dustin said.
When Dustin's attention strays from the lesson, Yousif “snaps his fingers and says, 'listen up,'” Dustin said.
Meanwhile, fifth grade teacher Richard Sturgess stood nearby. He said he was pleased with the student tutors. Each day before they work with younger students, they go over the day's lesson with a librarian.
Some of the tutors have been “very reliable, very dependable,” Sturgess said. Students who tutor have improved their own reading skills, he said.
Muktar said being a teacher is exciting, and his reading is improving. “I like that,” he said. “I'm getting ready for next year.”
The need for summer school is great, school Superintendent Bill Webster has said. National research shows students from middle-class families lose the equivalent of a month of instruction during the summer.
In Lewiston, a district with many poor families, the long summer means students lose on average two months of learning, Webster said. If the Longley program helps retain learning, he plans to expand it to other schools.
At Longley, which receives federal money to boost poor test scores, some students are several grades behind in reading.
“For most teachers here literacy is the paramount subject we teach," Sturgess said. "We work the hardest on literacy.” He volunteered for summer school because it allowed him “the chance to work with these kids and make an impact on how well they read.”
As of Thursday, 133 out of the school's 320 students were enrolled in summer school.
Longley Assistant Principal Deanna Nadeau said students “have absolutely” benefited by coming to summer school, which offered two 90-minute sessions four mornings a week.
On most Fridays, students took field trips for bowling, golfing, swimming at Reid State Park in Georgetown and touring the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore. The extra class time and trips helped improve social skills, teachers said.
In addition to improving academics, Longley's summer school gave students “a place to go,” Nadeau said. “They want to be in school. This is a welcoming place for them.”
On closing day Friday, students will be sent home with plenty of library books, Sturgess said.
Classes for the new school year begin Aug. 29.