A passion for reading
Alycia Knicely, you could say, is familiar with the territory at Berkeley Glenn Elementary School.
“I’ve been here for 16 years as a teacher. And I attended Berkeley Glenn as a child from kindergarten to sixth grade. And my parents live two doors down from the school. Still. Berkeley Glenn is home,” said Knicely, the reading specialist at BGES and the 2008 Waynesboro Teacher of the Year.
Knicely was among the local teachers of the year featured in the Fall 2008 edition of The New Dominion magazine.
One of her former teachers is still on the faculty at Berkeley Glenn, which is a way of saying that there is enough to keep Knicely grounded. She taught kindergarten at the elementary school for six years and first grade for another five before sliding into the reading-specialist role that has her working across grade levels with 50 of the school’s 300 students every day.
“I’ve heard people say, I’d never want to teach first grade, because if the kids I teach don’t learn how to read, then it’s my fault. Teaching first grade, I pretty much taught reading throughout the day across the entire curriculum, because you have to teach reading with every subject. That’s when it became my real passion,” Knicely said.
The aim of a reading specialist is “to catch the kids before they fall,” Knicely said. “With struggling readers, finding books that they’re interested in is the key. If you don’t like what you’re reading about, you’re not going to be interested in it, and you’re not going to comprehend what you read,” said Knicely, who cites the effort put in by students and parents at home as being as essential to the learning process as what happens during the school day.
“The home support for these kids is usually pretty good. We have lots of supportive parents with our students who come back to us at the end of the school year and say, Hey, is there any way for you to put together a packet for me to read to my child at home this summer?” Knicely said.
– Story by Chris Graham