Approximately 150 second through fifth grade students at French Creek Elementary will benefit from a grant written by recent West Virginia Wesleyan College alumna Molly Broadwater ’15, MEd ’17. The Dollar General Literacy Fund Grant Program awarded the small Upshur elementary school $2,000 to provide low level, high interest fictional texts for classrooms.
Broadwater, from Clarksburg, WV, wrote the grant as part of Tammy Samples’ Literacy Leadership course during the 2016-2017 school year. Each year, Samples, associate professor of education, encourages her students in this course to complete grants for each practicum placement. Broadwater worked with Christy Suder, Title I teacher and reading specialist at French Creek Elementary, for her project entitled “Choose Your Own Adventure.”
“I knew I wanted to try for the Dollar General Literacy Grant because there had been other students awarded in previous years, and I thought that I had a good chance to get the grant because of the demographics of the school,” stated Broadwater. “Our needs seemed to fit with the grant description very well.”
Broadwater chose to write the grant in such a way that would benefit students who were behind on their reading levels by providing books of interest for second through fifth graders but are written on a lower reading level.
“Students who are behind in reading can be at any grade level,” mentioned Samples. “If there is a fifth grader that reads at second grade level, they cannot read the books in their classroom. The books provided by the grant are high interest for fifth graders but with low readability text that matches their literacy level.”
“I thought this grant was important because one way to increase reading level is to get students reading more,” she said. “The students at the school, particularly the students in the upper grades, need books that they can read on their level that are also fun. If the books are more appealing to the students, they will be more likely to pick them up and start reading.”
This partnership between Wesleyan and the public school system has been ongoing, thanks to Samples. Other schools outside of Upshur County have also benefited in the past.
“My students are placed in various counties, and we have had Harrison County and Randolph County students benefit,” Samples stated.
Broadwater received her bachelor of arts in secondary education and English literature in 2015 and her master of education in reading specialist in 2017. She is currently employed as a seventh grade reading and language arts teacher at Robert L. Bland Middle School in Weston, WV.