By JESSICA BAUER

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

The students at the University of Central Arkansas Reading Success Center are working toward the rank of "reading star."

Director Mary Mosley said the students enrolled in the summer session aren't necessarily struggling in the classroom, but there is always room to grow when it comes to literacy skills.

"Our purpose is to focus on their successes and build on those so they can each become writing stars and reading stars," Mosley said.

Students who participate in the program are taught by teachers who are seeking their master's degrees in reading and literacy. Mosley said experience at the reading center is equally as beneficial to both sets of students.

"There are two teachers working with one child, one is the literacy coach and one is the regular teacher," Mosley said.

Students enrolled this summer range from kindergartners first learning to read to seventh-graders hoping to sharpen their literacy skills.

"The teachers make sure they show the young students that they are still working on becoming better readers," Mosley said. "It just shows them that learning is a lifelong process."

However, the teachers at the Reading Success Center aren't the only people showing students the benefits of reading.

Once each summer, students from the center participate in Read To Me day, during which local residents drop by to share a story and talk about the joys of reading.

"People come in and read to the children and show them how important reading is in their lives as adults," Mosley said. "They share what reading is like in their lives and how much it affects their jobs. It's just another way to reinforce the major goals of the program."

Thursday's readers included Sen. Gilbert Baker, UCA provost Lance Grahn and Carolyn Williams of the UCA College of Education.

The young students also made it a point to share some of the lessons they have learned with their guests.

One student read a list of contractions he found in a newspaper article, another read an excerpt from a mystery story he is writing and a third student shared a piece from her poetry portfolio.

Kelli Gordon, a literacy teacher at Ruth Doyle Intermediate School who is working toward her master's degree, said she sees the program as a way for kids to retain what they have already learned.

"So many kids lose information while they're at home during the summer, but through this program we can find the skills they may have lost and get them ready for the upcoming year," Gordon said.

According to Mollee Walsh, who teaches first-grade at Conway Christian Elementary School, everything in the bright, colorful classroom was designed to prove that reading is more than just school work.

"For the kids to associate reading with something really fun and really positive gives them a great outlook," Walsh said.

Although the summer program is only a few weeks long, Mosley said books, activities and a calendar of ideas will be given to parents.

"We send materials home to parents, not so parents can be involved as teachers, but so they can be involved by celebrating their children's successes with them," Mosley said. "We want them to show the kids they are proud of them and encourage them to keep reading throughout the summer."

(Staff writer Jessica Bauer can be reached by e-mail at jessica.bauer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)