Five Teachers Rewarded for Creatively Helping Students Avoid “Summer Slump”

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WeAreTeachers and Pearson’s WriteToLearn® Award Micro Grants to Support Summer Learning

Five teachers with creative ideas for ensuring that students avoid the “summer slump” in reading and writing will now boost their efforts and record their results with micro-grants from WeAreTeachers and Pearson’s WriteToLearn. These talented teachers submitted their ideas on WeAreTeachers’ powerful online community, where thousands of their colleagues around the country voted for the winners of the $200 micro-grant and Flip Video camera to capture their project in action.

The “summer slump” has long been a challenge, especially when it comes to reading and writing skills. “Students don’t practice enough over the summer and often return unprepared for the new school year,” said Lynn Streeter, President of the Knowledge Technologies group of Pearson, developer of WriteToLearn. “The overwhelming response to the micro-grant program that we sponsored in conjunction with WeAreTeachers showcases the ways that dedicated teachers around the country are devoting their own time – and, in many cases, their own resources – to help their students overcome this challenge. Our five winners illustrate the best-of-the-best, and their communities deserve to be proud of their creativity and dedication to student learning all year round.”

The winners and their projects are:

--Stacie Garrett, fourth-grade teacher, Elgin Elementary School, Elgin, Okla. Acknowledging that students often dislike reading and writing because it feels like work, Garrett makes sure her students are always writing with a purpose. They are given notebooks where they are encouraged to write freely and share what they have written. For summer practice, Garrett gave students new notebooks to record their school vacation experiences, which they are eager to do because they now think writing is fun.

--Suzanne Mini, fourth-grade teacher, Mascotte Elementary, Mascotte, Fla. Mini challenges her students by giving them a summer reading list of books on a level slightly higher than their ability and encouraging them to go to the local library to find the books. To practice their writing skills, she asks them to become budding new authors and write a book over the summer.

--Beckie Nieman, kindergarten teacher, North Pike Elementary School, Summit, Miss. Nieman leverages the power of the public library to help her students stay on track in reading and writing, ensuring that they all get a library card before the end of the school year and encouraging participation in the library’s summer reading programs. Then she gives them each a self-addressed, stamped postcard so they can practice their writing skills by sending her a note about what they are doing over the summer.

--Amy Smallwood, fifth-grade teacher, Grace Hill Elementary, Rogers, Ark. Teaching in a school where students face socio-economic challenges and more than 65 percent are English language learners, Smallwood wanted to be sure that her students had access to books over the summer. So they left on the last day of school with one fiction and one nonfiction book. Over the summer, if they write to Smallwood and tell her about the books they read, she rewards them by mailing them two more. Plus, she hosts special “read-in” days in the summer where the students can come to school to discuss what they are reading and swap books.

--Heather Wagner, associate principal/English teacher, Mother of Mercy High School, Cincinnati, Ohio. Wagner asked all of her ninth- and tenth- grade students, faculty and staff to share a summer reading experience by reading “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett. Then students practice their writing skills by writing about two episodes in the novel, as well as interviewing a family member who lived through that time period.

About WeAreTeachers
WeAreTeachers provides a powerful online community for teachers, combining the expertise of its member community, the resources and knowledge base of its partners and the momentum of social media to recognize and reward innovative teaching ideas. With thousands of teaching ideas submitted for cash and prizes, WeAreTeachers offers a unique forum for innovation and collaboration. For more information, visit

About WriteToLearn and Pearson
WriteToLearn offers students an engaging and motivational environment for practicing and refining their writing and reading-comprehension skills. For more information, visit

Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, has global reach and market-leading businesses in education, business information and consumer publishing (NYSE: PSO). For more information about the Assessment & Information group of Pearson, visit


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