Building a Culture of Literacy at the Elementary Level

student readers


Center Street and Richmond Street schools value reading by weaving it into most things they do from curriculum to extracurricular activities, it is truly the thread that runs through all the schools’ programs. ESUSD elementary schools use the Workshop Model in reading, writing, and mathematics to engage every student. Workshop is a teaching structure that guides students to be creative and responsible in their own learning. The Workshop Model asks students to take charge of their own learning, becoming active and engaged in their work and development of understanding.


Differentiated and student-centered learning is at the core of the workshop model where learning is individualized. The focus is on practice, growth, reflection, and self-driven inquiry to continuously challenge and meet the specific needs of students, catapulting them to the next levels.


Examples of literacy related events and activities outside of classroom academics include: summer reading challenges; PTA Reflections literary and art contest; Scholastic Book Fair, family literacy nights, Literacy O’ Lanterns creative activity; The Masked Reader – Virtual Family Literacy Nights; the Book Face Challenge; read-a-thons; March Book Madness; Story Pirates family night; Read Across America Day, and more!



Annual Literacy O’ Lantern Activity Combines Creativity & Literacy


Literacy Lanterns

Each fall, students from Richmond Street School and Center Street School are invited to take part in creating Literacy Lanterns! With the goal of promoting a genuine love of reading and inspiring discussions about books, students were encouraged to use their imaginations to create a book character on a pumpkin or gourd. Submissions were collected in mid October and displayed at each school creating a mini gallery. Ninety-seven RSS students and dozens of CSS students turned in creative lanterns from popular books including Dr. Seuss, Paw Patrol, Garfield, Disney, Star Wars, Peanuts, and a lineup of other favorite characters.


At RSS, student names were randomly drawn from all the entries and four lucky students from were honored as parade leaders, who were paired with teachers, during the annual Halloween costume parade!

Richmond 2021 Parade Leaders:

Lyla Guilanians

Waverly Gaudet

Cooper Alarcon

Liv Fitzgerald


Richmond Street School Principal Alice Lee introduced the Literacy O’ Lantern activity in 2017 and Center Street School joined in with students decorating “lanterns” the following year. The annual event has grown in popularity with the students’ excitement in creating artistic interpretations of characters from their favorite books. To view photos of some of the Literacy O’ Lanterns, click here.



The Masked Reader Strikes Again!


Masked Reader


Richmond Street School found a fun way to combine pop culture and literacy. Taking a cue from the popular TV show “The Masked Singer,” school faculty and administrators created “The Masked Reader” virtual event for students and their families. The inaugural virtual literacy night was conceived in 2020 since the school could not host its regular in-person Family Literacy Night and Book Fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Several teachers and administrators volunteer to be mystery readers donning masks as they read a favorite book to the students online. The students can engage in the chat function and try to guess the identity of each of their mystery readers!


This year, the event was held in the fall since the season lends itself to the idea of dressing up in costume and it is close to Halloween. The 2021 mystery readers were revealed to be Ms. Preston (kindergarten), Mrs. Varghese (2ndgrade), Mrs. Domer (3rd grade, and Mrs. Oulashian (assistant principal), with Reading Specialist Mrs. Haun and Principal Alice Lee serving has hosts.