, Gloucester, MA


September 17, 2013

Editorial: A winning school 'Challenge'

A program targeting elementary school students with a diagnosed learning disorder is, by all counts, a success story in the Manchester Essex Regional School District.

And that’s not only good news for the students, their parents and the school community at large, but for both towns’ taxpayers, who are getting the most out of a $165,000 Community Innovation Challenge grant that’s supporting the program.

The project amounts to an intensive program that serves children in Grades 4 and 5 with a confirmed reading disability, but who also have average or better cognitive skills and a history of real challenges in the classroom, as noted by student services director Allison Collins in Monday’s Times story.

And students transition back into mainstream classrooms when they show they’ve improved their reading and language skills.

But while the program was funded by the Community Innovation Challenge grant last year, with an eye toward providing money for one-time or transitional costs, that transition program, which drew six students last year, is now serving eight students on the elementary level while also following six students to Grade 6 in the middle-school level.

It can sometimes be difficult for regional school systems to effectively deliver programs such as this, but while the program is based at Manchester’s Memorial School, students from Essex Elementary can and are participating as well.

Given it’s growth and acceptance, this is one program that seems to be addressing an important classroom need, and one that works for all. Let’s hope the support for it can continue.

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