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Madison Metropolitan School District

Village Builders: Teaming for Reading

Village Builders: Teaming for Reading

Thoreau Elementary’s Holli Davis served 17 years as an MMSD special education assistant (SEA) before becoming a teacher. Now in her 5th year in front of the class (first grade), her role has recently seen her collaborating closely with Village Builder Brenda Hinahara, a retired MMSD educator of 20 years. For Ms. Davis, Village Builders are not simply more bodies in the school or classroom—they’re teammates. 

Last year, 25% of Ms. Davis’ first-grade class improved 15 to 20 points on their FastBridge, EL spelling and decoding, and other assessments integrated into their instruction. Students who faced significant academic challenges were jumping two achievement levels by the end of last year. Ms. Hinahara participates in parent-teacher conferences to provide caregivers an understanding of the multifaceted support their students are receiving, and then collaborates with them to develop targeted strategies that reinforce classroom efforts at home.

A former Gillespie Middle School teacher, Ms. Hinahara has found great fulfillment in returning to MMSD in this capacity. Her partnership with Ms. Davis has allowed them both to focus on supporting students whose attendance has been inconsistent this year, so they don’t fall far behind. The reading, writing, and phonics foci in small groups have paid dividends, not just in assessment data, but in students’ social-emotional learning. She and Ms. Davis have seen students’ confidence grow as students see how successful they can be through their small group work. The reading groups cultivate community amongst the students and adults, and also reinforce the high expectations Ms. Davis has for them.

Ms. Hinahara and Ms. Davis have forged a trust through intentional sharing of one another’s observations of students until they each see the same thing, so it is no surprise the students feel a sense of belonging in Ms. Davis’ classroom, and receive the support they need to succeed. Teaming at Thoreau is leading to reading at Thoreau!

A group of students and a teacher sitting at a table reading a book together