WANTED: West Lee Middle School Readers

Keen observers walking into or past the West Lee Middle School media center will see several “wanted” posters taped to the windows. Who is “wanted” at WLMS? Readers, curious and engaged.

Many teachers, and now students, have gotten caught in the act of reading. That is, these individuals are being recognized for checking out and reading books in the library.

Media Assistant Falecia Simmons began the WLMS Get Caught Reading campaign a couple weeks ago after she noticed that the number books checked out from the library have decreased. “Last year, I knew that our [book check out] numbers were decreasing,” she said. “So I thought I would do something with the teachers that would motivate the students. That if I could ‘catch’ the teachers reading in the library, then the students would follow their example. It would be a movement to get the students reading.”

And after just a few weeks, more and more students have visited the library. “I’ve noticed that the numbers are up this month and that a lot of the students are checking out the same books as the teachers,” Simmons said. “The students are seeing it, seeing how reading is fun, not boring.”

When Simmons catches a staff member reading, she takes a photo of them and turns it into a “Wanted” poster that is hung up outside of the library. Eventually, she wants to cover the entire wall with posters of both the staff and students. “So far I’ve caught teachers, a custodian and a couple students,” Simmons said. “It’s just fun. I like to catch the kids when they’re completely unaware, when they’re reading while walking or just stop in the middle of the room to read.”

Principal Erin Manuel said the campaign encourages the students and staff to engage in reading when and where the opportunity presents itself. “It is critical for our students to see the importance of reading and developing these skills as young readers,” she said. “This is being promoted through the modeling of our teachers and staff members at West Lee, who have ‘been caught reading.’ We want our students to ‘get into reading’ any time, any place, and anywhere.”

“The campaign has really caught fire,” Simmons noted. “The teachers are having fun with it and the students are more engaged. It’s a win-win.”