2680 /

Reading Program Mixes Pups and Paperbacks

  • As part of Read to Succeed Spartanburg District 7 and the Spartanburg Humane Society are working together on a program to provide dogs for a summer reading program. 

    Reading to dogs Each summer handfulls of elementary school students in District 7 get the opportunity to read to a couple of canine companions. Each Monday morning in June, a group of students between second and fourth grade from all over District 7 come to Houston Elementary School and are given the opportunity to read children’s books to dogs provided by the Spartanburg Humane Society. The program is part of the state Department of Education’s Read to Succeed initiativ

    This Monday, the youngsters met Ramon and Ozzy. Ramon, a former stray, spread sloppy kisses and dog hair all over the students, while Ozzy, a more reserved dog, quietly and attentively listened to the small children sprawled around him.

    The dogs chosen for the program go through a series of tests at the Humane Society before being brought around the kids to ensure that they will respond in a positive way.

    This is the fourth year of the reading camp, and it is the second time the Humane Society has been a partner.

    Jennifer Dowis, a summer reading camp coordinator and reading coach, said she and District 7 Deputy Superintendent Terry Pruitt got the idea of incorporating dogs in the camp after seeing a news segment on therapy dogs helping students improve their reading skills. She said the reading program has taken off since the partnership with the Humane Society began. She said hosting the Humane Society and their furry friends has had a positive impact on attendance in the summer. 

    Spartanburg Humane Society CEO Angel Cox said she believes the program provides a comfortable, judgment-free environment for the students to cultivate their reading skills, away from the peer pressure that might be found in a classroom setting.


    Read to Succeed Overview

    In June 2014, the South Carolina General Assembly passed Act 284 (Read to Succeed), excerpted in Appendix D, as a monumental step toward closing the state’s achievement gap and increasing opportunities for all students in South Carolina. Read to Succeed legislation is ground-breaking for South Carolina because it is comprehensive, systematic, and affects every educator and student in the state through eight components: 1. State, district, and school reading plans; 2. Focus on third grade progression; 3. Summer reading camps; 4. Provision of reading interventions; 5. Requirements for in-service educator endorsements; 6. Early learning and literacy development; 7. Teacher preparation; and 8. Reading coaches. 

    The goal of Read to Succeed is to ensure all students graduate from high school with the reading and writing skills they need to be ready for college and careers.  While South Carolina students have made some progress in reading, the numbers of proficient students are still low compared to other states. Research is clear that students who are not proficient readers by third grade are more likely to struggle academically, greatly reducing their chances of graduating from high school, going to college, or successfully participating in a 21st century high-skill economy. The problem is not an English Language Arts issue alone; students who are struggling readers are less able to access content in all areas of learning, including science and mathematics.

    Act 284 ensures that students who are unable to read and comprehend on grade level will be identified as early as possible and be provided with targeted support from all classroom teachers.  Read to Succeed requires that all educators have the knowledge and skills they need to assess and address student reading problems effectively. To this end, the law mandates requirements for teacher preparation, coursework for in-service educators, and the establishment of reading coaches in schools.  Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, educators have 10 years or two SC renewal periods to complete the required coursework or professional development for the Read to Succeed Literacy Teacher endorsement, beginning with their next renewal period.

    For more information about Read to Succeed state requirements, please click here.

    To review the South Carolina Read to Succeed Act, please click here.

    For Read to Succeed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), please click here.