Student reading program earns state recognition

GREENFIELD — A reading program that inspired staff and students at J.B. Stephens to read more than 18,000 books this year has earned state recognition.

The Indiana Department of Education recently named the Greenfield elementary school’s Over the Rainbow for Reading program as a Promising Practice.

Schools across the state are asked to submit summaries of educational practices for the honor. Those that are determined to be statewide Promising Practices are ones that are student-centered, showcase innovation and positively impact students, among other metrics, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz wrote in a news release.

J.B. Stephens is the first county school to be recognized as a Promising Practice school.

Each of the 38 Promising Practices recognized this month highlights a program that supports the diverse academic and social needs of students across the state, Ritz wrote.

Ritz created the initiative this year to highlight 200 programs that are focused on ensuring all students have access to a high-quality education during the state’s bicentennial.

Promising Practices are shared as an example of best practices in hopes that educators will be inspired to adopt ideas that have succeeded in other districts.

Over the Rainbow for Reading was a 20-week reading program during which students read books and wrote their titles on strips of paper once completed. Educators used the strips — more than 18,000 of them — to create a chain long enough to wrap around the school’s perimeter.

That’s not just guesswork, either. Students and staff celebrated together as they surrounded the building with their paper chain.

The reading program aimed to make reading fun for the elementary-aged students and motivate them to tear through more titles, Principal Matt Davis said.

Over the Rainbow for Reading is part of a reading program developed two years ago to spur student enthusiasm for books both at home and in school. The chain link, which hung in the school throughout the course of the program as books were added to it, was a tangible way for students to see the result of their hard work, Davis said.

The capstone to the program came in April, when students and staff dressed like their favorite book character and participated in wrapping the chain around the school.

Having Over the Rainbow for Reading recognized as a best practice inspires educators and rewards the school community for the work that went into reading 18,000 books, Davis said.

Greenfield-Central School Superintendent Harold Olin said he was proud of the students and staff at J.B. Stephens for the dedication they had for making the reading program successful.

Davis agreed.

“It’s amazing,” Davis said. “It just caps our awesome year.”

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or