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Jenai Burden tutors kindergarteners in reading on her own time, opens library to students on break

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Kindergarten teacher Jenai Burden has hosted a reading tutoring program for seven of her former students almost every Wednesday this summer. The onslaught of snow days the Oregon Trail School District experienced last winter was not ideal for student learning, and the "summer slide" phenomenon has not likely helped young students retain what they absorbed during the school year.

Kelso Elementary kindergarten teacher Jenai Burden has decided to take action to make sure her students are ready for the first grade.

This summer, Burden began hosting weekly tutoring sessions so seven of her kindergartners from last year can succeed when fall rolls around.

"Kindergartners can lose up to three months of reading (knowledge) over the summer," Burden said. "They're very smart kids, but we just had so many snow days."

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - For five years, Burden has devoted her summer Wednesday afternoons to allowing children access to the Kelso Elementary School library. Burden started the program the Wednesday after school ended this June and she plans to keep it going until Aug. 23.

She utilizes an online program to find lesson plans and sends new books home with students every week. Last week's book was "The Hungry Giant."

Besides tutoring, Burden for the past five years has opened the school library to families interested in checking out books every Wednesday afternoon during the summer. All of the time she's devoted so far has been volunteer and unpaid.

"I've seen a lot of growth actually," Burden said. "I care about them and I want them to be successful."

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