by: Photo by Susan Matheny - Principal Gary Carlton greeted students on the first day of school at Madras Primary Sept. 10.

   Gary Carlton is welcoming students back as the new principal of Madras Primary, replacing Kathy Bishop, who retired.
   Carlton had been in charge of the alternative ed program at Westside, the Title VII, and Migrant programs, and was overseeing the Westside facility. Before that, he was the principal of Madras High School from 2003-2011.
   "They asked if I was interested in the position and I said `Absolutely!'" Carlton said, noting he was an administrator for four years in a setting for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders when he started his career. Madras Primary has kindergarten through second-grade students.
   The staff has been adjusting to scheduling changes which are aimed at improving student reading.
   An increase of 20 minutes was added to Madras Primary's school day.
   "Teachers schedules were really full. There was no wiggle room, with all the reading requirements, where they could just be with students, take attendance, and catch their breath," Carlton said. The extra 20 minutes will allow them to do that.
   It also helped standardize things. "We've come in line with with the same length of day at all the elementaries -- Metolius, Buff, Warm Springs and Madras Primary," he said.
   In addition, a new schedule and partnership was developed with Buff Intermediate School, where both schools share educational assistants and reading specialists for their reading programs.
   Instead of 90 minutes of reading time, Madras Primary now has two full hours of reading a day.
   In the morning, the Title I reading specialist and several educational assistants travel over from Buff to Madras Primary to work mostly with second-grade reading classes, along with Madras Primary's teachers and reading specialist.
   In the afternoon, seven educational assistants and a reading specialist from Madras Primary go to Buff school for a two-hour reading block.
   "It allows for consistent reading time. Before, reading time was scattered throughout the building," Carlton explained.
   With double the staff, the reading groups are much smaller, manageable, and children will get more attention.
   Math time will also now be 70 minutes long, an increase of 10-15 minutes from last year.
   "This is the third year that all (509-J) schools have been on the same page with their reading programs, and it's paying great dividends, and I want to continue those great results," Carlton said.
   He noted that last year, fewer than 24 percent of kindergarteners entering school were reading at grade level, but when they finished the year, 90 percent were reading at grade level.
   "Reading it the key to everything. It's an absolute must," Carlton emphasized.
   In his new position, he said, "I'm really looking forward to working with the great staff here, and continuing to reach goals in reading and math."
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