Stillwater News Press

January 17, 2013

Westwood teacher finds common themes improves reading skills

By Mark Rountree
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — With new student standards on the horizon that emphasize reading, improving those skills at an early age is vital.

“Common Core is going to be all about reading,” said Laura Flesner, a reading specialist at Westwood Elementary School and one of 10 educators in the district who were elected site teachers of the year.

Stillwater Public Schools will be fully operational with the Common Core Student Standards beginning the 2013-14 school year. Flesner said her curriculum is designed to prepare each of her 67 students from pre-K through third-grade for the new standards.

“We read several stories within a series, or several stories within a topic, and they have to synthesize all that and talk about how the information goes together,” she said. “And that’s what Common Core is — reading multiple pieces, a book, an article, a video and talking about the common theme that carries over in all of them.”

Flesner is a 32-year veteran educator who has taught for the last 25 years at Westwood. Flesner said she was honored by her selection by peers as the site teacher of the year.

“It’s an honor but it’s only since I work in such a fabulous school,” Flesner said. “I think we all deserve to be teacher of the year. ... I think (teachers) see what a difference it makes to have small pull-out. I pull out children who are struggling with reading, and we do it in small groups. I try to pinpoint where they need extra help so that we can work on that weakness.”

The district will name the top three teacher of the year finalists Feb. 1. A banquet will be held May 6 at       Meditations to announce the district teacher of the year.

“We are delighted by the depth of the talent these 10 teachers exhibit,” said Kellee Brown, public information officer for the district. “Their accomplishments and professional recognition are a reflection of their commitment to lifelong learning, innovative teaching strategies and student development.”