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Published: Friday, January 13, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Firefighters help in classroom

Mountain View kindergartners teamed up to practice letters, letter sounds

  • Granite Falls Fire Department Lt. Chris Burt, who volunteers in a kindergarten class at Mountain Way Elementary in Granite Falls, works with Logan Jer...

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Granite Falls Fire Department Lt. Chris Burt, who volunteers in a kindergarten class at Mountain Way Elementary in Granite Falls, works with Logan Jergensen on letter recognition Thursday morning at the school. Since September, about 30 firefighters in all have visited twice a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help kindergartners in two classes learn their letters and letter sounds. Story, B3

  • Granite Falls Fire Department Lt. Chris Burt, who volunteers in a kindergarten class at Mountain Way Elementary in Granite Falls, works with Emme Sand...

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Granite Falls Fire Department Lt. Chris Burt, who volunteers in a kindergarten class at Mountain Way Elementary in Granite Falls, works with Emme Sanders on letter recognition Thursday morning at the school.

GRANITE FALLS -- Kindergartner Rylee Tonsgard knows why firefighters routinely visit her classroom at Mountain Way Elementary School.
When teacher Deedra Ingrum called her name Thursday morning, the 5-year-old girl was ready to practice naming letters with one.
Rylee could name most of the letters on the cards that Lt. Chris Burt of the Granite Falls Fire Department showed her. Burt told the girl she did a good job and reminded her to keep practicing so she could eventually name all of the upper- and lowercase letters in the alphabet.
Firefighters since September have visited twice a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help kindergartners in two classes learn their letters and letter sounds. After the students can show they have learned those things, the firefighters help them read words on flash cards and listen to them read short books.
"We don't read to them, they read to us," Burt said. "They know right what to do and they don't mess around. What little kid wouldn't want their firefighters to come in and help them out?"
Granite Falls Fire Chief Jim Haverfield told school Principal Cathie West he was looking for ways firefighters could become more involved in the community. She asked him if firefighters could come to the school to help kindergartners learn to read. Now the kindergartners look forward to every visit.
"They refer to the firefighters as their fire friends," West said. "If we're doing a fire drill and they see the firefighters around they say, 'There are our fire friends.'"
Kindergartners in Ingrum's class and those in teacher Olga Litz's class take home envelopes of flash cards to practice naming letters and reading words. They bring back the envelopes so they can work with the firefighters.
Learning to read is fun but it isn't always easy, said Ryan Martin, 6.
"It can be hard; words get complicated," he said.
About 30 firefighters in all have spent some time at the school working with kindergarten students, Haverfield said. They remain on call during the hour sessions at the school in case an emergency occurs, he added.
Her students are learning more with the help of the firefighters, Ingrum said.
"They're all ahead of last year's class and I know it's because of this," she said. "I hope it continues next year, too."
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » Granite FallsMountain Way Elementary

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