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Young Middle Magnet Program Encourages
Students to Excel

Students in Connect-A-Kid Program learn to fly kites as a tool for reading reinforcement.

The Connect-A-Kid Program at Young Middle Magnet School in Hillsborough County is contributing to great results on the FCAT through learning gains. Dr. J.C. Barnes, coordinator, says the program's focus is to establish and maintain a positive connection between the students, parents, teachers and school community. "My role is as a parent and case manager for each of my student's academic, attendance, and behavioral progress and success," said Dr. Barnes. "As a result, all students that participate in this unique program pass the FCAT while making tremendous learning gains."

The Connect-A-Kid goals include providing students with positive educational experiences, intense reading and writing skills development, help to improve attention spans, good social behavioral conduct, positive self image lessons, self discipline and adult mentoring for assured success.

Dr. J.C. Barnes and Student Travis Williams

One of the Connect-A-Kid activities included kite flying to reinforce the motivation to read. The activity promoted consistent instruction, practice and application in the process skills of reading and writing. It involved reading background information, recognizing words in context, and keeping events in order. Each student was given an unassembled kite and a set of written instructions. The task was to make the kite fly through reading comprehension.

As a sixth grader, Travis Williams could not read, write, and was not happy a happy student at Young Middle Magnet School. "Some people would have misclassified him as SLD," said Dr Barnes. This year, as a result of participating in the program, Travis passed the FCAT and is reading at grade level.

"One day, Travis came and gave me a teddy bear as gift of appreciation and now always asks me if I have it in my car," said Dr. Barnes. "He wants to make sure that I'm always riding with it."

For more information on Young Middle Magnet School, visit the school's web site at