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Creston School teacher gets recognition for her efforts to keep the kids reading -- even over summer vacation

RITA A. LEONARD - Creston Reading Specialist Greta Bergren shows THE BEE some of the books being mailed to kids this summer to encourage their reading skills. Creston K-8 Elementary School Literacy Specialist Greta Bergren was presented a Teacher of the Year award by the Portland Council PTA shortly before the end of school for the summer. The award honors her for a special summer reading program, funded by the PTA, whose focus is to encourage lifelong readers – by mailing books to students over the summer break.

Bergren, a former Kindergarten teacher, has been in charge of the Summer Book Program for five years now. "A Creston parent, Elizabeth Israel-Davis – now another Reading Specialist – helped create the program, and brought a version of it to students at King School last year," she explained. "Our focus is on kids from Kindergarten to 5th grade, to get them excited about reading.

"We introduce them to the first book in a series that they choose, which interests them. We help them read that book, and they get to bring it home at the end of the school year. Next, we mail them the other five new books in the series, at two-week intervals over the summer. Elizabeth does fund-raising for the program for the PTA."

Bergren has been teaching for 14 years, and is focused on helping kids love to read. "Two years ago I brought a dyslexia program – the Barton program – to Creston, to work with small groups of kids who have difficulty reading," she revealed. "It's been working very well here. The Summer Book Program encourages reluctant readers to keep up their skills during the summer with topics they've already shown an interest in." Creston Elementary School is located at 4701 S.E. Bush Street in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood.

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