Tree of Life


Reading program sows seeds of reading


Handmade foliage has taken root in Stonewall Elementary School’s hallway and doesn’t show signs of stopping.

Lori Maxcey, the principal of Stonewall, took a simple idea from Pinterest, an online pinboard, and used it to start a reading frenzy at school.

“We started with a tree trunk on the wall and anytime a student finishes reading a book they place their name and the name of the book on a cutout of a hand,” Maxcey said.

The hand is used as a leaf on the tree and according to Maxcey, “It’s taken up half the hallway.”

She also said she and the teachers have seen reading levels go up.

“Teachers also see how increasing reading helps in all subjects,” Maxcey said.

In addition to the Reading Tree, Stonewall students participate in the Accelerated Reader program.

Misty Jensen, the school’s librarian, said the tree has created a reading fever that is fueled by the competition between the fourth and fifth graders, who are vying for the most leaves on the tree.

Each grade level has a different colored hand: kindergarten is purple; first grade is blue; second is green; third is yellow; fourth is orange and fifth is red.

“They seem to really like it,” Jensen said. “They check to see which grade level has the most hands.”

The fifth grade seems to be winning the contest, according to Jensen. This may be because they have more students than the fourth grade class, she said.

“It’s turned into a monster,” Jensen said of the growth of the tree. “I wasn’t expecting it to grow this big but it’s great.”