East Idaho principal reads from the rooftop

REXBURG — Burton Elementary School Principal Landon LeFevre applied sunscreen to his nose – protection for a day spent on the roof reading to hundreds of elementary students.

“They love this,” Lefevre said. “Last year I kissed a pig when they met their reading goal.”

Lefevre’s time on the roof was all part of an Accelerated Reading (AR) incentive, earned by the students at Burton Elementary this school year. On Friday, students gathered on the blacktop near the playground to enjoy some candy and listen to Lefevre read a children’s book.

“You’d be surprised at what they’ll do to see the principal in a different light for a day,” said Librarian DeeAnn Stoddard, who organizes the AR event each year. “And Mr. Lefevre is always a good sport about it, too.”

The reading incentive at Burton is simple, Stoddard said. Students accrue as many points as they can by reading books throughout the school year. If students reach their goal, they get to spend time with Lefevre in a setting outside of the classroom.

“Next year I’ll probably get dunked in a tank,” Lefevre said.

The incentive is about more than having fun for a day — it’s about helping kids develop a love for reading, Lefevre said.

And the incentives are working, according to the AR numbers. In 2013, Burton Elementary students garnered 10,179 AR points. Last year, that number jumped to 26,736. This year, students racked up 30,463 points.

“We had one student rack up 1,000 points,” Lefevre said. “In all my years of teaching, the most I’ve ever seen a student earn is 500 points.”

Third grader Bryce Wilson tallied 1,051 AR points this year — a feat requiring the completion of  25-30 books, he said.

Though spending time with Principal LeFevre is “alright,” Wilson said, getting lost in a book is the true reward for time spent reading.

“Reading is just fun,” he said. “It’s like my favorite thing to do.”