School psychology grad students lead Bulldog Bookworms to boost reading skills of local kindergarteners, first graders

Contact: Lydia Palmer

MSU graduate students lead young elementary students with reading activities
MSU graduate students lead elementary students in reading activities. (Photo by Lydia Palmer)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A two-week summer program at Mississippi State can make a long-term difference to students—from kindergarteners and first graders to MSU graduate students.

Local kindergarten and first graders needing intensive remedial reading instruction and MSU graduate students preparing for careers in education recently learned together through the Bulldog Bookworms program, based on the science of reading. The program goal is to help young students boost their skills while also making reading more fun.

Under the direction of Professor Daniel Gadke, head of the Department of Counseling, Higher Education Leadership and Foundations, the program was coordinated by Assistant Professors MacKenzie Sidwell and Kayla Bates-Brantley, alongside 12 school psychology graduate students. The leaders strategically implemented reading activities in fun ways, including small group instruction, intensive intervention and daily enrichment including art, physical activity and music.

The program was made available through a partnership between Starkville Oktibbeha School District and the T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability.

“I am so thankful for our continued partnership with the SOSD, extending beyond the school year to provide essential summer educational opportunities. By joining forces, we create a powerful learning environment that benefits not only the students in the district but also our graduate students and faculty,” Gadke said. “This partnership serves as a catalyst for continued professional growth, fostering a strong commitment to enhancing the educational journey and empowering the entire community.”

Sidwell said, “As school psychologists and faculty members, it is a privilege to serve these young learners in our community, while also creating unique opportunities in reading assessment and intervention for our graduate students.”

Bates-Brantley observed that reading is a fundamental academic skill that, at times, is challenging for children to learn.

“This camp was a wonderful opportunity to offer additional instruction to help students achieve this foundational educational milestone,” she said.

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A group picture of two rows of MSU school psychology graduate students
MSU school psychology graduate students helping lead the recent Bulldog Bookworms program included (front row, l-r) Jamie Moss of Nederland, Texas; Rita Druffner of Ellicott City, Maryland; Mattie Williams of Kentwood, Louisiana; Marilyn Kolpien of Avon, Indiana; (back row, l-r) Cecelia Powell of Biloxi; Jacie Rinehart of Saltillo; Rylee McHenry of McKinney, Texas; Marsha Hasenoehrl of Columbus; Landon Bonner of Little Rock, Arkansas; Chelsea Thorpe of Olive Branch; and Jennifer Ani of Pleasant Grove, Alabama. (Photo by Lydia Palmer)