Consultant encourages elementary students to work hard

Friday, September 1, 2006
Educational speaker Larry Bell, right, interacted with students during his visit Thursday to Jefferson Elementary School in Cape Girardeau. (Don Frazier)

Education consultant Larry Bell shouted words of encouragement to Jefferson Elementary School students Thursday, leading them in cheers that focused on the skills needed to succeed in school.

"You have to work hard in school every day," Bell told hundred of students seated on the gym floor during a school assembly.

Bell advised students to do their homework, have a good attitude, attend school every day and listen to their teachers.

"People who become very successful do their homework," he said.

Bell was scheduled to speak again Thursday evening to parents at the school and today at a faculty workshop.

After the assembly, Bell said schools must look at how to do a better job of teaching low-income and minority students.

Teachers, he said, must realize that low-income and minority students come to class with lower vocabulary skills. "Language and vocabulary are the keys to success in middle-class America," said the Virginia education consultant.

As a result, teachers need to focus more heavily on language. "Every teacher has to be a teacher of reading," he said.

Improved literacy will help students do better on standardized tests that provide the key measurements in the No Child Left Behind Act, he said.

Teachers, he said, need to reiterate key points in subject matter throughout the school year so students better learn the material. They also need to give longer tests to their students during the school year to better prepare them for the Missouri Assessment Program tests.

Bell said he tells parents they need to make sure that their children are doing homework.

That's difficult for many low-income and minority parents who often can't find time to monitor homework because they are so busy working to put food on the table, he said.

In addition, parents who have had little academic success find it difficult to help with their children's homework, Bell said.

"No parent likes to feel stupid in front of their child," he said.

Bell, however, encourages parents to get involved in their children's schooling and make their children read daily. Parents, he said, should make sure their children go to school every day with a positive attitude.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to meet proficiency standards in math and communication arts but doesn't provide the funding or advice on how to boost the test scores, he said.

Bell, through his educational consulting firm, offers teachers advice on how to better prepare students to do well on standardized tests.

His visit to Jefferson was funded with a school-improvement grant from the state.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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