Maryland Exemplary Reading Award

Each year, the
International Reading Association recognizes one public, private, or parochial school in each state with the Exemplary Reading Program Award.  This award recognizes the school's commitment and ability to create an outstanding Reading/Language Arts program at all grade levels.  This year, Swan Meadow School has been honored by the State of Maryland International Reading Association Council (SoMIRAC) to receive this award.

Swan Meadow School would like to recognize the exemplary dedication of our students, their families, district leaders, and school staff members who have contributed to the success of our reading program.  "School + Home + Community = Student Excellence" is more than our school motto.  At Swan Meadow, it is a daily practice.  

Some highlights of our reading program include:
  • District and school support
    • Garrett County Schools and Swan Meadow School remain committed to staff development.  Enhancing teachers' understanding of current research, best-practices, and instructional strategies is a vital component of any successful educational program.
    • After-school and summer reading and math programs receive funding from school and district levels in order to provide extended learning opportunities for students.
  • Teacher knowledge and leadership
    • Our teaching-principal and three full-time teachers are all teacher-leaders within Garrett County Schools.  
    • All staff members strive to improve their teaching by expanding their own knowledge through actively seeking and participating in staff development at school, county, state, and national levels.
    • All teachers have served as leaders by presenting staff development sessions at school, county, and/or state levels.
    • All reading teachers are active members of the Garrett Reading Council, having served as council officers, committee chairs, and members of numerous committees. 
  • Use of sound, research-based theory and practice
    • Teachers remain committed to providing high-quality instruction based on sound theory, current research-based principles, and best-practices.
    • Instructional decision-making is driven by a wide-range of sources, including the Garrett County Reading/Language Arts Curriculum, standardized and classroom based assessments, and teacher observations.
    • Teachers utilize a variety of instructional programs, including: Harcourt Trophies reading series; Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Elements of Literature series; Four Blocks; 6+1 Traits of Writing; SOAR to Success; Harcourt Intervention Series; and Read Naturally Fluency Program.
    • Teachers use effective techniques for differentiation, including the use of various types of fluid grouping techniques.
  • A variety of contexts for literacy learning
    • Students have had the opportunity to learn about reading and writing from published children's book authors Anna Egan Smucker and Marc Harshman.
    • Each year 5th grade students have the opportunity to learn about writing from a children's book author and/or illustrator at Frostburg State College's Children's Literature Festival.  Recent authors/illustrators have included: Megan McDonald, Richard Peck, and Ted and Betsy Lewin.
    • Literacy instruction is infused in all content areas to equip students to read, write, and speak like historians, scientists, and mathematicians.
    • Students have opportunities to build skills through cross-aged grouping and tutoring.
    • Students participate in real-world literacy activities, such as grant-writing, collecting and recording oral histories, and utilizing technology for researching, writing, and creating presentations.
  • Home, school, and community partnerships
    • Fostering strong family and community partnerships is a priority for staff members.
    • 100% of families attended parent teacher conferences!
    • At our Family Reading Day, staff members taught parents about the importance of fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension activities.  They also modeled activities that families can use at home to strengthen these skills, and students and their families enjoyed practicing them together.  Each family received a copy of our theme book, The Relatives Came, and each child was able to select an additional book of their choice to keep.
    • During our "A Book Is Meant to Be Tasted" event, families share recipes based on their favorite books.
    • Middle School students participated in a four-year Gortner Oral History Project, through which they interviewed family and community members to collect local history.  This project led to a student-created published history of Gortner, Piece a Quilt of Gortner, and an educator packet containing two picture books, A Day in the Life of an Amish Girl and A Day in the Life of an Amish Boy, a reader's theater script, sound lotto game, and a board game based on the history of Gortner.
    • Teachers and families encourage students to participate in summer reading and math incentive programs to maintain their skills during the summer months.
    • Staff members work closely with the Gortner Home-school Kindergarten Group to help provide a smooth, successful transition between kindergarten and first grade.
  • Developing a Lifelong Love for Reading and Writing
    • While students have demonstrated success on the Maryland School Assesment each year, teachers also emphasize the importance of developing a lifelong love for reading.
    • Teachers encourage students to explore their own interests through independent reading contracts, research projects, and self-selected writing topics.
    • Student successes are recognized and shared with others.  Such achievements have included: a middle school student being selected to serve on the "Junior Scholastic" board of student advisors, a studnet's story being published in "Nature Friend" magazine, state winners of the Young Author's Contest, and inclusion of multiple students' work in a variety of national anthologies of student writing.

For more information on how your school can apply for the Exemplary Reading Program Award, click here to visit the International Reading Association's Website. To reach Garrett Reading Council's website, visit