Editorial: Pi Beta Phi Elementary brings honor to school system with reading award

May. 30, 2013 @ 11:15 PM

In a time when public education is America’s favorite whipping boy, Pi Beta Phi Elementary School is taking those notions to task. The Gatlinburg school recently earned the International Reading Association’s Examplary Reading Program Award, which calls public attention to outstanding programs in schools throughout the United States and Canada.

If you use comparative test scores, the United States does appear to be lagging in the areas of reading, science and math. It is troubling, especially when it appears many children read only what they have to read for school, eschewing books for pleasure and recreation. To get better at reading requires the same attention to detail and practice as it does to be a great athlete.

Pi Beta Phi seems to get it right. Each participating school system with an active Exemplary Reading Program Award committee chair may choose one winning school a year. All public, private, charter and parochial schools are eligible.

“As I look into the sunset years of my career, to be part of receiving the award on behalf of the school underscores the quality of reading instruction provided,” said Pi Beta Phi principal Glenn Bogart. School librarian Patt Gunn traveled to San Antonio, Texas, to receive the award on the school’s behalf.

“It couldn’t happen to a better school and community. The award has been earned,” she said. “It’s the result of Mr. Bogart’s 24 years of leadership, the teachers’ commitment, the financial support of the PTA, the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce, and other donations that have helped keep the library new.”

Bogart attributes the program’s success largely to the teachers. “The greatest award and recognition go to the teachers who day after day plan, prepare, and teach the necessary skills,” he said. He also believes the school’s organization as a K-8 elementary school is profitable for the students. “We have the advantage of emphasizing reading. Most of our students are with us for nine years, and they benefit from the continuity and persistence of a well-oiled, well-planned program,” he said.

This is a terrific honor for the school and for Bogart, long considered one of the best principals in the Sevier County system. Congratulations to all involved in making the award possible.