Pasadena: Teen’s reading program combines passion for books, animals

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 13, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

Bailey Clark’s pet collection over the years has included hedgehogs, chinchillas, lizards and rats.

The 17-year-old Pasadena resident is an animal rescuer passionate about creatures of all sizes. Bailey is also an avid reader.

“The two things I love most in the world are reading and animals,” she said.

For years, Bailey has visited her alma mater, Solley Elementary School, to tutor younger students in reading. Recently, she created a program combining her loves. Clark said she chose to include animals in the program because, “kids have a natural connection with animals.”

Bailey, a senior at Northeast High School, says she created the reading program “for fun.” She wanted to encourage youngsters to read. As a tutor, she saw kids weren’t interested in reading.

“I started thinking, ‘I need an incentive that’s universal, that the kids are going to get excited about,’ ” she said

The result is a program that rewards students for turning in monthly reading charts, which documents reading time.

The school has been using her reading incentive program since October. During that time, faculty members have seen a spike in student reading. Solley’s Principal Jeffery Haynie said students are excited about the program and it’s been successful.

Hundreds of Solley students, ages kindergarten through second grade, filed into the school’s auditorium on Nov. 6 to visit with Clark and her two rats. First, the students are welcomed to ask questions about the animals. Then, Bailey reads them a story she’s selected called, “The Great Pet Sale,” by Mick Inkpen.

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Following the reading, students make a craft related to the animal Bailey brought along. During the Nov. 6 visit, students created rat-shaped bookmarks using construction paper and plastic eyes.

As the children work on their craft, Bailey walks around the room with her rats, giving students a closer look. Some students recoil. Most are curious and ask questions. Students are given fact sheets about the rodent when they return to their classrooms.

Bailey has brought in her pet hedgehog named “Willow” and two fancy rats named “Pippa” and “Stella.” In the coming months, she plans to bring in a pot-bellied pig, chinchilla, hamster, dog and cat. All of which are rescue animals. She says she tries to keep the upcoming animal a secret.

“I always try to make it a surprise,” she said.

Her love for animals has deep roots. Her mother, Kim Clark, says Bailey has given refuge to many homeless animals.

“She has a mini zoo at home,” she said.

Now that Bailey is incorporating these animals into a reading program, she says those adoptions were justified.

Bailey has spent around 50 hours creating her reading program.

“I don’t know how she finds time for this,” Kim said.

Bailey researched curricula, books and teaching methods. She spent hours refining the program to fit her audience’s needs. Her former fourth grade teacher, and Solley’s current reading teacher, Amber Bobick assisted Bailey.

“It’s been fun having her back,” Bobick says of Clark, blinking back tears. She is impressed with Bailey’s transformation and the way she gives back to the students. Bobick has witnessed, the enthusiasm her students have for Bailey and her pets.

“They love her,” she said.

Second-graders Brady Haddock, Levi Page, and Colin Hersl, said they enjoy Bailey’s visits and her pets.

“The first time I did it I was surprised we were going to see animals,” Brady said.

The boys said their favorite part was learning about the animals. Colin said he enjoyed learning that there were “such things as fancy rats, I thought all rats were messy.”

The students are excited for next month’s visit. Colin vows, “I’m definitely turning (my reading chart) in next month.”

Also lending a hand is her mother, Kim, who serves a long-term substitute teacher at Solley. While developing her program, Bailey reached out to her mother for suggestions, including craft ideas.

“She’s so good with the kids,” Kim said, “I can sit here with 25 kids in a first grade classroom and cannot get the attention that she gets from 125 kids.”

Bailey is also member of Read with Athletes and the Principal’s Leadership Committee, president of the National Honor Society, and secretary of the Student Government Association. She is also an exhibit guide at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

In addition, she has volunteered at the Maryland Zoo, Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center, EcoAdventures and the Maryland Food Bank. She currently works at Calvert Veterinary Center. Next year, she plans to study animal sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Clark says her favorite part of this reading program experience is when, “kids realize they love reading.”

She plans to continue the reading program at Solley until spring. In the future, she hopes to expand her program to other area schools. She is still surprised by the student’s positive reactions to her program.

“I never thought kids would respond to it like this,” she said.

For more information about Clark’s program, email baileyaaronclark@gmail.com.

Library events

Mountain Road Library, 4730 Mountain Road, is hosting babies in bloom and toddler time on Nov. 16 and Nov. 30.

Babies in bloom starts at 9:30 a.m. This early literacy program is designed for babies ages birth to 18 months, and includes songs, action rhymes and playtime.

Children ages 18 to 36 months are invited to toddler time at 10:30 a.m. This program also includes developmentally-appropriate stories, songs, rhymes and movement activities while building early literacy skills.

The library is also hosting a candy corn bingo at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 18.

For more information, call the library at 410-222-6699 or visit http://www.aacpl.net/location/mountainroad.

Article source: http://www.capitalgazette.com/neighborhoods/ph-ac-cc-around-pasadena-1114-20151111-story.html

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