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SUNDAY, MAY 13, 2007
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Smith, Daily to help educate Valley youths

Melanie Smith, a longtime staff writer for The Decatur Daily, is taking on a new assignment for the paper in addition to her news beat.

Smith is now also the Newspaper in Education coordinator for the paper.

Joined by other staffers, she is working with teachers, parents, sponsors and others to expand the newspaper’s role in literacy and education.

“The newspaper is a wonderful resource for learning,” Smith said. “It’s a tool that children, teens and even preschoolers can use at school and home to reinforce what they are learning, whatever the subject.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in education and journalism, from The University of Southern Mississippi. She has taken additional writing courses at Auburn University.

She taught high school English and journalism in Pass Christian, Miss., for a year. As a volunteer, she has tutored youths in writing and reading and taught English as a second language.

She co-developed a program to help students self-correct their writing and has written a youth curriculum for a denominational group.

Smith said her love of newspapers started at home when she began reading The New Orleans Times Picayune at age 7. At The Daily, she has won awards from the Religion Newswriters Association and from the Alabama Associated Press. She is continuing her work as The Daily’s religion writer.

Studies show that reading the newspaper helps students achieve more, Smith said.

The Newspaper Association of America Foundation found that students using newspapers did 10 percent better on standardized tests. For minority students using the newspaper frequently, improvement on the tests was 29 percent.

The Daily is already a classroom resource for many local teachers in reading, writing, current events, math, health and other subjects, Smith said.

To sign up, educators may call her at 340-2468 or the Circulation Department at 340-2414.

The Daily is adding NIE features, including serial stories and Kid Scoop, a weekly standards-based activity page for youths. Web site content will offer NIE extras such as teacher aids.

Smith said The Daily’s goals for NIE are to promote literacy, help educators connect youths to the real world, increase student achievement and affirm the role of the newspaper.

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