Nettie Marshall creates unique opportunity in collaboration with Nacogdoches Fire Department
Posted 09 - 20 - 2013


NACOGDOCHES – Developing lifelong learners is a heavy focus at Nacogdoches Independent School District, and proficiency in reading plays an integral role.



 



Nettie Marshall Academy of Dual Language librarian Alice Dillon and bilingual instructional strategist Paula Harshbarger developed a special lesson plan with help from the Nacogdoches Fire Department to engage students and cultivate a desire to read.



 



“I believe that developing proficient readers is one of the best defenses against educational mediocrity, or worse yet, academic failure,” Harshbarger said.  “In fact, I feel that reading is the educational building block for success in all other subjects.  Very simply put, once a child learns to read, he can then read to learn.”



 



As part of the school’s special lesson plan, Nettie Marshall Academy of Dual Language students read the children’s book ­ “Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos.”  But what makes this particular book special?



 



It’s written in both English and Spanish!



 



Following the two-way Dual Language Enrichment Model of brothers Leo and Richard Gómez, Nettie Marshall is striving for every student to be bilingual and bi-literate upon the completion of fifth grade.



“One of the ways in which we work to meet that challenge is to saturate our students with language,” Harshbarger said.  “By interspersing Spanish throughout the story, listeners are forced to switch back and forth between the two languages…strengthening the executive functions of the brain which control cognitive processes such as problem solving, attention, and verbal reasoning.”



 



To add even more depth to the experience, Dillon and Harshbarger borrowed authentic firefighter equipment from the Nacogdoches Fire Department. Items on display included a high-visibility fire suit, fire-resistant gloves, tactical boots, and a helmet complete with face shield.



 



The two dressed up a mannequin —  Dillon’s long-time friend named Aunt Flo — in firefighter garb and set her on display as the librarian proceeded with her lesson.



 



“When reading a book about firefighters, it was wonderful to have authentic gear to show the students,” Dillon said.  “When I explained the purpose of the various parts, the students got very excited and felt like the book came to life!”



 



But the lesson didn’t stop there.



 



The firefighter gear also allowed them to talk about career possibilities. Nacogdoches ISD is implementing a culture of college-readiness in cooperation with No Excuses University, which focuses on painting college as a viable option for every child.



 



Dillon added that she likes to encourage students to work hard and do well in their classes so that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up.



 



The journey for Aunt Flo — the mannequin  — doesn’t end with the Nettie Marshall visit. She will be travelling with the fire gear to other campuses throughout the district, as well as Cushing Elementary School.

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