Elementary teacher wins NIE award

By Leslie Radford: CNJ Staff writer

Third-grade teacher J’mi Heflin uses newspapers to teach core subjects at James Bickley Elementary. She was recently selected the local Newspapers in Education 2005 Teacher of the Year, having been nominated by Principal Cindi Tabb.

“I had asked the teachers (at James Bickley) what they used in their classrooms that seemed to show most effective,” Tabb said. “I think newspapers are a valuable resource. It’s something that a great majority of our students have access to.”

Heflin said her class uses every aspect of the newspaper in a variety of subjects from math to social studies.

“Sometimes I’ll have them identify nouns and verbs,” she said. “They’ll look for different ways to use numbers like time, percentages, dollar amounts. One of their favorite activities is to use the ads to ‘buy’ things. I’ll give them a budget and they have to shop for things without going over.”

She said they talk about current events in social studies class and use articles to identify the president and other government officials.

“Using the newspaper is priceless —it’s invaluable,” said Heflin, who received a marble apple from Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico, sponsor of Newspapers in Education.

NIE Coordinator Lynn Berry said research shows that when students and teachers use the newspaper weekly or more, reading test scores go up.

“Reading newspapers is crucial to being an informed citizen,” he said.” You need to know what is happening in your community as well as the larger world to be able to be an effective participant in decisions that affect you and the people you care about.”

Research published by the Newspaper Association of America states that, on average, students who use the newspaper in school scored 10 percent better on standardized reading tests than did students who did not use the paper.

Berry said the newspapers used in classrooms in the area are paid for by the Southwest Dairy Farmers Association. Curriculum guides, workshops and support are supplied by Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico.

• For more information about NIE, contact Lynn Berry at: lynn_berry@link.freedom.com