Teachers often use the expression "reading is fun" to get their students interested in books.
The Jefferson City Public School District on Wednesday recognized two teachers who have done this in a unusual yet special way.
One hundred percent of East Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Jolie Dupree's and Cedar Hill Elementary School kindergarten teacher Amy Dutcher's students met their reading growth targets, earning the chance to set off explosives at the construction site of the new Capital City High School on Mission Drive.
"I spent much of the year working with the students on reading content," Dupree said. "I've seen a big growth in the students in how they feel about their own learning and how they're invested in setting goals for themselves. The academics was there, but getting them to care was my first priority."
"Even in kindergarten they want to do their best and want to succeed," Dutcher said. "I asked for help from the reading strategy coach. I used all the strategies I knew; but when I ran out of those, I asked for help and that helped me get over the edge."
The teachers said reading is the key to everything when it comes to learning.
"A lot of difficulties I've seen students have is over the reading component," Dupree said. "If they're successful in reading it unlocks every other content area to them just by being able to access math problems and history texts. Without reading they are limited in what they can do in school and later in life."
Dupree and Dutcher said it was fun to "handle this much power" when they set off the charge to take out a large amount of earth at the construction site. Dupree collected 18 small rocks to take back to her students.
"They were very jealous of what their teacher was going to be doing," Dupree said.
Crews with Twehous Construction have been working to clear the site for the new high school since February.
The renovation of the current Jefferson City High School and construction of Capital City High School are expected to be completed by January 2020.
Superintendent Larry Linthacum said Capital City High School still is planned to open in August 2019 for its first students, but it won't be until closer to the end of the first students' first semester that some spaces, including the school's main and auxiliary gyms, will be completed.