Little voices fill the air in the Skyline library as second grade students take part in RuthAnn Barker's final Read-a-thon.
Barker is retiring after 32 years of teaching at Skyline and with her goes some unique programs that have become familiar traditions at the school.
Barker said she started the Read-a-thon to encourage students to enjoy reading and to get the opportunity to read to someone.
"It makes them feel special to read to someone else. Every child needs to feel special," Barker said.
The best part of the program is seeing the joy in the students faces when someone comes to here them read. One boy in particular was so happy when his dad was able to come listen to him. It builds a bond between the student and the guest.
Paula Crowdis, mother of Lane Crowdis, said it was very important to have the opportunity to read with her child. Getting his mom to come in and listen to him read was special for Lane.
Besides reading to someone, students are also in a competition. The Read-a-thon is held the last Friday of every month. Students have to take a test over the books they read and have to score at least 80 percent for the book to count. Each student has a goal of reading 100 books during the year and the class has a goal of reading 2,000 books. Each student and the class have met the goal this year.
The Read-a-thon is held the last Friday of every month but Barker has other special events during the year the make her classroom special.
Once a year Barker holds a Kansas Quiz Bowl and a President's Quiz Bowl. Students form teams and have to answer questions using hand buzzers. Parents, grandparents and siblings come to watch the competitions.
Visitors often find themselves stumped on questions and they enjoy taking part in the activities as well.
One other event is the annual auction. Students earn points during the year for doing good things and lose points when they misbehave. On auction day students bring items from home and local auctioneer John Hamm comes to school and runs the auction. Students bid using their points and have to keep track so they don't bid points they don't have.
Students have lots of fun with these events and learn something at the same time that is outside the regular classroom work.
"There's more to school than reading, writing and arithmetic," Barker said.
She will miss the students. Teaching has been fun and the students become like family. In fact Barker has taught two generations of several families.
Barker plans to spend more time visiting Katherine Ann Barker, the first granddaughter on the Barker side of the family, who lives in New Jersey. She also wants to do some traveling and spend more time quilting.
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