Patagonia Union High's Dunaway, turning non-readers into readers - Tucson News Now

Patagonia Union High's Dunaway, turning non-readers into readers

PATAGONIA, AZ (TucsonNewsNow) -

Just wait until you meet Kimberly Dunaway, her enthusiasm bounces off her classroom walls.  Teaching English and Drama at Patagonia's Union High School, she is always cheering them on, whether they are acting or writing.

We caught up with Mrs. Dunaway during one of her English classes.  She is no stranger to the classroom though, this 30 year veteran continues with her constant goal of turning non-readers into readers.

"I want them to feel when they come in that this is an environment where they can be open and have some say in what interests them, because to me what their personal stories are, are as fascinating as the stories I try to teach," said Dunaway. 

She gets the students to open up through the autobiography project, where they write a book about themselves. 

And check out the covers, they are all different symbols they have picked to represent themselves.  One particular student chose a camera, because she could see situations from different angles.  By the time Dunaway is through reading these books, she feels like she knows who she's dealing with. 

"They have chapters, like a chapter on their family, a chapter of their likes and dislikes, chapter on their interest.  I get to know them that way right away and then from there I can gear non-readers into material I think they can either be taken by or succeed in reading,"  commented Dunaway. 

Take Jonathan King, one of Dunaway's students, he would only read comic books, but Dunaway found out what interested him and pushed him to read other books.  He is so into what she throws his way, Jonathan says he can't put the books down. 

"One of my favorite authors now is Orson Card, who wrote the Ender Game series and so I've read three or four of those books and they are higher level books." 

"If you give her a paper you might get a lot of red ink back because she wants you to learn," commented one student.  Another said,

"She really wants to make sure that people get the fundamentals and getting a deeper understanding so that they will be able to move on and use the skills that she teaches us." 

And so her mission continues, gain one more reader at a time.  Mrs. Dunaway teaches English at every grade level.  This year Patagonia Union High has a graduating class of 10 students, but there is less than a hundred kids in the entire school.

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