TEACHING METHOD: English II teachers at Picayune Memorial High school have found success by introducing modern novels geared towards young adults into their curriculum.  From left standing are English teachers Jessica Waterman, Jennifer Rasberry and Nicole Waaga. Photo by Jeremy Pittari
TEACHING METHOD: English II teachers at Picayune Memorial High school have found success by introducing modern novels geared towards young adults into their curriculum. From left standing are English teachers Jessica Waterman, Jennifer Rasberry and Nicole Waaga.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Archived Story

Teacher raises approved

Published 7:00am Thursday, May 1, 2014

All teachers in the Picayune Separate Municipal School District will receive a raise while English teachers at Picayune Memorial High School have found a way to get students more interested in reading.

During Tuesday’s school board meeting it was announced that teachers will receive raises from the state and local levels in the coming school year. Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said the state gave each teacher an additional $1,500 per year. On the local level the district will supplement each teacher’s pay by $100 annually. The local supplement will cost the school district about $27,000, Harrell said. The board approved a motion to provide the local supplements.

Three English II teachers at the high school informed the board of their success in increasing class participation and reading comprehension by using a modern novel geared towards young adults.

Three first-year teachers Jessica Waterman, Jennifer Rasberry and Nicole Waaga, met over the previous summer to form a method to entice students to read.  They came up with the idea to introduce a young adult novel into the curriculum; so far it seems to be paying off.

The novel is part of a series written by James Dashner, entitled “The Maze Runner”, said Waterman. It centers on a dystopian future where young adults are trapped in a maze and must find a way to escape. In the rest of the series it is learned the characters live in a world where solar flares have ravaged the Earth and a virus is affecting a portion of the population. The government is now seeking anyone who has immunity.

Waterman said the books have become so popular with the students that they would disappear at the end of the day, but reappear in the classroom the next day. Even students who are not taking English II have been began asking Waterman to borrow the books, she said.

Now, attendance is up in the class, students are passing comprehension tests by answering questions a summary would not provide the answers to and they are asking to borrow sequels in the series that Waterman has in her personal collection.

Waterman said the second book was assigned as homework, which a majority of the students completed with minimal resistance. She said parents even called to report their children were reading at home.

“We’ve been pleased with the results,” Waterman said.

Rasberry said she has noticed the teaching method has helped students who previously read at low levels improve.

While common core has a list of suggested books, teachers are also able to select their own choices, Harrell said. The books were purchased with grant funds from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, Waterman said. In addition all three teachers read all of the novels in the series over the summer to ensure the content was appropriate for class, Waterman said.

The aim is to help the students perform better during state testing. So far the teachers have noticed a major improvement in each student’s reading comprehension. No action by the board on the topic was required.

Adults will pay a bit more for school lunches in the coming school year. Breakfast for adults will increase by .20 cents to $2.25 while lunches will increase by .25 cents to $3.50. Harrell said the school has to charge adults what it costs the district to produce each plate and those costs have risen. The board approved the price increase.

In other business the board;

— Approved a special education extended school year matter for the summer to ensure the students retain what they learned.

— Moved a bus turnaround at 51 Buster Stockstill Road to 64 B. Buster Stockstill Road.

The next school board meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. May 13.

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