Milton Hershey School Teachers Inspire Literacy and Reading Skills in Students
By Shannon Newell, MHS Middle Division Reading Specialist
It’s no secret that proficiency in literacy and reading is as important for long-term success as the soft skills we speak so much about at Milton Hershey School. Students arrive to MHS with a diverse array of backgrounds. No student is the same, nor have they had the same educational journey. All MHS teachers are committed to helping our students succeed at high levels, no matter their literacy skills or passion for reading.
At MHS, every teacher—including reading specialists—works hard to develop strong readers inside and outside the classroom. For many of our students, having access to books that interest them across our three divisional libraries allows them to grow in their skills—encouraging them to read on their own time.
Additionally, MHS motivates students to foster their passions, while seeking out and embracing learning opportunities. Our instruction helps students initiate, manage, and succeed within their broader learning experience. This includes providing complementary instruction to be used within the student home, summer school, the Year-Round Experiences program, and targeted tutoring. This year, we are focused on transferable career skills that MHS students can learn in our classrooms, character and leadership development, and teaching the MHS Sacred Values—integrity, commitment to mission, positive spirit, and mutual respect.
Since I began teaching literacy and reading at MHS almost 20 years ago, I have learned so much from my students. As they’ve shared their interests with me, I find it such an honor to help them become the best readers possible. To see them achieve their reading goals and learn to love reading is so rewarding—for me and my students.
We see this same excitement for reading growing in our youngest elementary-aged students. In fact, this school year alone, MHS Elementary Division students have read and tested on more than 22 million words in a wide range of books.
Many of my former students have gone on to graduate from MHS and lead successful lives. Some MHS alumni have even built on the literacy and reading skills they learned at their alma mater to become published authors, taking their talents to the next level. Here are a few examples of MHS alumni authors who’ve been published in 2022:
- Deitrich Davidheiser ’07 – “The Kind Grind” (children’s book)
- Aurita Maldonado ’01 – “The Zen of Dancing in the Rain: Becoming One with the Storm” (memoir)
- Rasheeda McLean ’11 – “The Student Teachers” (children’s book)
We are lucky at MHS to have such abundant resources to strengthen our students along their paths. It’s wonderful to have students come back to visit after they move on from my classroom and share about books they’ve read and ways they’re continuing to challenge themselves in reading and beyond.
How rewarding is it that my literacy and reading classroom played a role in their journey? Incredibly so.