An interview with Mrs. Julie Swinehart, English department:
Anyone who has met Mrs. Swinehart knows that she tells each student: “Don’t forget to read; always have your book”. When meeting in the hallways, she will ask “What are you reading today?”
Mrs. Julie Swinehart has been incredibly determined in strengthening the reading rates at ANS. She wishes that students could read on a daily basis instead of just doing it because of a due date.
Before joining ANS, she lived in Jordan and this is where she had her first international teaching experience. She studied at the University of Oregon and also taught in Oregon for fifteen years in public schools.
Her experience teaching for twenty years has helped her discover innovative ways to help students enjoy reading.
She explains: “I noticed that if I gave students more choice in what they read, they read more and more authentically. I thought that because I was the adult and I knew better about books and that I could make better choices than kids. But those were just situations where I thought I knew better, yet I wouldn’t necessary know better. Kids know what they like. People know what they like”.
Mrs. Swinehart shares her advice: “My rule is to encourage and facilitate and keep students accountable for their reading. I’m there to make sure kids know many of the different choices they have to read. This is how I realized that kids will read more and more if they have a choice.”
To teenagers, books can seem boring compared to a night out. However, once we are reminded about the importance of reading by how it increases vocabulary, writing skills, and test scores, and also opens us new worlds, we realize that we should take more advantage of reading.
There are also some students who say they hate to read, but as Mrs. Swinehart says, this is only because, “You haven’t found the right book yet. My job is to make it happen. The reason I think it is important is that it makes us good students, more well-rounded, but most importantly, it makes us better human beings.”
She thinks reading is also incredibly important because it helps us build empathy. She found that, “One of the best ways I heard someone describe it was: books can be windows into other worlds, other cultures and other experiences, but they can also be mirrors and reflect back on myself so that I can learn about the world and learn about me.”