Westport Elementary Wins 2021 SPS Reads Challenge

The students of Westport Elementary toughed their way through eye strain, dim lighting, and the dreaded paper cuts to power their way to the championship of the 2021 SPS Reads Challenge.

Elementary schools across the district were invited in the three weeks before Spring Break to find innovative ways to encourage students into reading. The Director of Elementary Learning for the district, Mike Methvin, put only one rule in place: students had to be excited about reading.

“We challenged our principals to come up with some outrageous, exciting schoolwide reading activities to encourage a real joy for reading,” Dr. Methvin said in a statement. “Our schools did a phenomenal job embracing the challenge, with so many engaging and exciting celebrations of reading across the district. But the Westport team took it to another level.” 

The students at Westport had events that included a guest read-aloud event with Springfield Cardinals mascot Louie, head-to-head challenges between classes to see who could read the most pages, and special visit from Missouri State mascot Boomer.

At the end of the challenge, Westport had read over 46,000 pages in one week, and the library’s circulation at the school increased 47 percent.

“Our teachers took to this reading challenge because our reading team create fun and engaging activities for all of our students and staff,” Jill Dennison, principal of Westport Elementary, said in a statement. “But we also have had a really intense focus on math as a school this year. The challenge gave us an opportunity to focus on reading and literacy with our students, while having a lot of fun.” 

Westport was one of a dozen schools taking part in the challenge, with other schools showing reading improvement numbers like Mann, McGregor, and Weller.

“We know the impact that reading has on a student’s future, and our teachers created some serious energy and enthusiasm around this challenge,” Dr. Methvin said in a statement. “When it’s done right, learning and fun should go hand in hand. We are looking forward to making this an annual event as we head into Spring Break each year.”