“As a principal,” states Deon Goshorn, “it makes me feel good to know that teachers are happy, children are happy, and we’re having success.”
Goshorn, principal at Iron Springs Elementary School in Cedar City, Utah, does not attribute all of what would seem to be an epidemic of happiness to some kind of chemical in the food in Cedar City, nor to any kind of brainwashing. A reading program called Reading Horizons, it seems, is successfully aiding students at the school in their efforts to learn to read and write well.
“The teachers enjoy teaching it,” she says. “I don’t even remember having a teacher say that they didn’t enjoy teaching it. It’s a good program, and immediately they see that it’s doing what they want to have happen in their classroom. It is teaching the skills those children need to have.”
“The other most important thing to me is the children like it,” Goshorn continues. “(To me), it’s got to be enjoyable to teach, and it’s got to be enjoyable to learn, but it also has to be successful. And we are seeing success. Children are (learning) how to decode their words better or gain fluency because of knowing how to decode faster. So, children are doing better with that program, and we’re seeing that success.”
Word has gotten out, it seems, about what is going on at Iron Springs. The administrators, teachers, and students aren’t the only ones who are pleased with the program.
“Parents are grateful we’re teaching phonics,” she proclaims. “Many parents will say (to me), ‘Finally the schools are teaching phonics.’ I am hearing from teachers in other districts and from other schools who came and want to have the same program to the point that, I think, every school in our district now (teaches) with Reading Horizons. They really enjoy doing the phonics program.”
One of the challenges for the more than 500 students at Iron Springs, Goshorn says, is that the school has experienced 14 percent growth and a mobility rate of 30 percent, which means that children are always coming and going. Nevertheless, the administrators and teachers are channeling their efforts to keep track of each individual.
“Literacy, in an elementary school, is everyone’s business,” she mentions. “Everybody here is involved in literacy, down to custodians. … Every teacher is a part of the team. We have the resource teacher. Instead of just doing special ed., our resource teacher is also fully involved in what we’re doing every day in the classroom and looking for interventions for children who are not being successful. … We have the reading specialist, who coordinates that effort with the resource teacher. And then our special educator, who works with children who are more disabled, is also part of the team.”
“The role of collaboration is to make sure every child’s needs are met – that not one child slips through the cracks,” Goshorn says. “And we mostly talk about children at-risk, or children who are not being successful in the classroom in Tier I. It’s so easy for two or three weeks to go by, and a teacher just doesn’t realize that that much time has gone by, and this child is slipping. But when we talk about it every single week, those children don’t have a chance to slip very far before we’re picking up on it and taking care of their needs.”