Cheryl Nelson (WV '00)
Reading First Reading Mentor Teacher and Grant Coordinator
Green Bank Elementary/Middle School
Green Bank, WV
At the time of the Award, Cheryl Nelson was:
Hillsboro Elementary School
Cheryl Nelson is the reading mentor teacher (RMT) for West Virginia's Reading First program at Green Bank Elementary School where she works with K-3 teachers in scientifically based reading instruction (SBRI) patterned on the National Reading Panel's findings (www.nationalreadingpanel.org). She facilitates the implementation of SBRI though modeling, observation and professional development to achieve NCLB mandates of students reading to grade level by the end of third grade. As a member of the WVDE Reading Cadre, (wvde.state.wv.us/reading/readingfirst.html) Mrs. Nelson functions as a liaison for other Reading First schools in the state. She provides professional development in SBRI, supports RMTs, and during the summer offers Three Tier Reading Model and Teacher Reading Academy training. State committee involvements include serving as a master trainer for the social studies content standards and objectives (CSOs) and on the revision committee for reading CSOs. In addition, she is the Reading First Grant Coordinator for the county. At the time of her award, Mrs. Nelson was a fourth-grade teacher at Hillsboro Elementary School. To energize student learning, she helped design a developmentally appropriate, standards-based integrated curriculum. By inviting experts into the classroom, such as a meteorologist during a unit about weather, she connected her lessons to the real world. A National Board Certified teacher, Mrs. Nelson obtained an administrative degree in 2005.
I originally expressed concern over "No Child Left Behind" and the mandates minus adequate funding. While this still holds true in some areas, the reading focus due to NCLB is phenomenal through a federally funded program called Reading First. This is a federally funded program that builds in reliability and results. While the accountability of teachers teaching reading K-3 has risen, the Reading First program provides the support and funding to meet, before this program, unimaginable gains in reading achievement with struggling readers and as teachers of reading. As a teacher of reading based on the findings of the National Reading Panel, I truly feel like a professional; equal to any other professional in any other career that conducts their work based on factual findings and results. It used to be said, "Teaching Reading Isn't Rocket Science" BUT now it is more adequately expressed by "Teacher Reading Is A Lot Like Rocket Science". The time of theory based instruction is past I wouldn't want to be treated medically by a doctor who based his/her practice on what they felt was good for me as their patient. I want my medical treatment to be founded in proven research I want my students taught in the same manner; instruction founded in research.