EARLY — As a teacher for 15 years of second and sixth grade, Early Primary School Principal Teresa Cooley patrols the halls and monitors the academic success of the youngest Longhorns. With nationwide reading levels not exactly where they should be and a strong alliance with other principals in the U.S. on her Facebook group, Cooley started reading to the children of this community online — this county’s very own “Mrs. Rogers in the neighborhood.”
Looking over reading scores, Cooley sees reading levels are below where they should be, and many kids aren’t being read to by their parents at all. To some extent, that’s because their parents can’t read, Cooley explained. Cooley decided to step out, take action and started Snuggle and Snooze: a reading program centered on improving literacy.
Every Sunday Cooley takes to the air of her Facebook page and reads to the parents and children tuned in for the story of the week from their grade school teacher that is now a principal. In choosing each book to read, Cooley leaves that to life, as it presents itself with different moods and lessons, so each book is chosen accordingly.
As a person who attended Howard Payne University with emphasis on educating kindergarten through eighth graders to read, Cooley is the woman for the job. Because of her relationship with reading, she continuously listens to the opinions of her students as it pertains to improving their experience and the reading programs put in place by Early Primary School.
Early ISD implemented its AG program years ago. The children begin to dread each year in which they had to meet the requirement and began to turn the reading program into a competition to win but hated reading. As a result, BINGO reading became the new program. Cooley instructs the students on interesting places to read: under a tree on a bench, by the fireplace to their parents and what type of books to read as a result their attitude toward reading improved.
“Every day we have to read,” Cooley said. “It’s an absolute necessity to be successful in life.”
Before the Snuggle and Snooze program started Cooley read to the students once a month in each classroom every Tuesday. The hope is that the children will love reading, continue to read and parents will also read more to their children.
As the year comes to a close and such great things have been accomplished. Thinking of Thanksgiving, I asked Principal Cooley what she’s thankful for, having chiefed at Early Primary for two years now? The first thing that came to mind was her family, then she narrowed in on the school year only, reflects and said, “I’m thankful to be allowed to lead this school. The children have blessed me more than anyone will ever know, and I look forward to work every day.”