At LEAD Southeast Middle School, there are nearly 38 Millionaires! These students and staff aren’t Millionaires in the traditional sense, instead they have earned the title by reading a million words so far this school year.
“We are so proud of all of our students and their investment in their reading goals,” said Assistant Principal Caitlin Burkholder-Travis. “I love seeing children advocate for what they want to read and for finding joy in the stories they choose.”
The school set a goal for the 2021-2022 school year to read 230 million words collectively. Currently, students and staff have read 186 millions words. That translates into 11,869 books read. Twenty-six students and 12 staff members have earned the title of Millionaires.
In 2019, LEAD Southeast Middle School leaders noticed that their students didn’t seem to be reading outside of the required texts at home. The team decided to overhaul their reading program and implement an incentive program that everyone could compete in. Burkholder-Travis and Instructional Coach Hannah Knox started the “Millionaire Club” to encourage everyone in the school to read 230 million words collectively and recognize individuals, including faculty and staff, that read one million words.
At LEAD Southeast, the club has become ingrained in the school culture and has resulted in many positive outcomes.
“At LSE, we believe reading is a social justice issue. One’s ability to read, write, and express themselves through words dictates much about the rest of their life,” Burkholder-Travis said. “Another critical aspect of the success of this program is that students can and should read what they want to read.”
According to The Power of Reading, a meta analysis of research investigating independent reading over the past forty years, Stephen Krashen reveals that no single literacy activity has a more positive effect on students’ comprehension, vocabulary knowledge, spelling, writing ability, and overall academic achievement than free voluntary reading.
LEAD also operates under the assumption that ALL teachers are literacy teachers because all students need reading skills to be successful in every content area.
Students are rewarded for every 100,000 words they read with a button. Reaching the “Millionaire” goal means you get the coveted Millionaire Club sweatshirt, with the extra perk of having a say in the sweatshirt color for next year.
With so many students interested in reading, LEAD Southeast needs more books for students to choose from. If you are interested in donating to the school’s library, contact Eloise Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org.