Barksdale surveys reading

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2001

NATCHEZ – Claiborne Barksdale, CEO of the Barksdale Reading Institute, is in town this week to interact with students and check on the progress of a statewide effort to boost reading skills.

Frazier Primary School, West Primary School, McLaurin Elementary School and Morgantown Elementary School, were selected to participate in the program that benefits students in preschool to third-grade.

&uot;If I told you Christmas was going to be in March instead of about two weeks would that discourage y’all,&uot; Barksdale said to a students at McLaurin Wednesday.

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The students were discussing the meaning of the word &uot;discourage&uot; when Barksdale came to visit their classroom.

&uot;I think they’re working very hard,&uot; Barksdale said about the school. &uot;I’m very encouraged that the program is being implemented.&uot;

Barksdale’s brother, Netscape Chief James Barksdale and James’ wife, Sally, established the program through a recent $100 million donation.

The program is designed to boost reading skills by testing each child’s weaknesses in reading and creating plans to help them. It also involves parents and extra tutoring.

Tommy Molden, future principal of McLaurin, sees similarities in the Barksdale Reading Institute and strategies used at his former school in Georgia.

It’s important to meet each child’s individual needs instead of just teaching to a group, he said.

McLaurin and West are in their first year of the grant program. Morgantown and Frazier are in their second year.

So far, the Natchez schools seem to be energetic about the program, Barksdale said.

Barksdale said he was pleased with how Frazier had undertaken their second year.

&uot;I just had a great feeling about what is going on in that school,&uot; Barksdale said.

Allison Lack, principal at McLaurin, said she thought Wednesday’s visit went well.

McLaurin and West received more than $250,000 this year for the program, said McLaurin Principal Allison Lack.

Frazier and Morgantown received approximately $139,000 this year, said Frazier Principal Demetria Reed.

The trip gave Barksdale a chance to talk with the teachers and visit all of the classrooms, Reed said.

Barksdale will visit West and Morgantown today.