Dreams become reality


Kristin Muir has found her calling as a reading specialist.

Muir was named a Bowling Green Kiwanis Club Inspirational Educator and was honored at the club’s meeting Thursday.

Muir is in her sixth year as a reading specialist at Kenwood Elementary after teaching first grade for 10 years.

Her students are “learning to read and reading to learn,” she said.

Muir is a 2002 graduate of Bowling Green High School. She lives near Pemberville with her husband, Lon, and their three children.

One of her favorite things to do was helping her teachers in the classroom. In later years, she was a babysitter and 4-H camp counselor.

She earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Bowling Green State University.

“From a very young age, I always wanted to be a teacher. For some reason, second grade was my pick, but I ended up in first (grade) but now in reading,” she said.

She began her teaching career in Bowling Green 15 years ago at Ridge Elementary after teaching for one year with Elmwood Schools.

“What was once a dream of mine as a small child, growing up it became a reality,” she said about teaching at her alma mater.

She shared memories from the years she taught first grade at Ridge, including literacy nights, celebrating the 100th day of school, and breakfast buddies.

Her dream had become a reality, she said, but while she enjoyed teaching math and science, she grew to love teaching reading.

When a Title 1 reading position opened at Kenwood Elementary, she took it even though it was a difficult decision to move away from being a classroom teacher.

“I’ve truly found my calling,” she said.

She focuses on helping students in K-3 build the foundational skills they need to become fluent readers.

If you walk by my room, you may here the echo of the “a” in apple or a “sh” sound, signaling warm up drills for the day, Muir said.

She uses fun, hands-on lessons, she said.

Brains are not naturally wired to read, and educators must make sure instruction activates all parts of the brain, she said.

Muir said she works on word recognition and language comprehension – two components necessary for reading comprehension.

As many students begin kindergarten, they have reading skills lower than desired, Muir said.

“But the good news is, research based early intervention can work,” she said.

She said has four-five students in each class for up to 25 minutes.

Each of her lessons is tailored to meet the needs of each student. For most, mastering takes time, with the goal to read and write at their grade level, she said.

She teaches segmenting sounds in words, learning new letters, vowel drills, physical phonics and decodable texts. They read and write daily.

She has students look in a mirror to see how their mouth works on certain words.

Muir shared with it is like to be a struggling reader

She showed a passage with words the group would not be able to decode, just like a young reader would come across words they didn’t know.

She then shared the same passage with a cleaned-up vocabulary that she said had 92% reading accuracy.

The first passage only had 72% accuracy, and at that level, readers aren’t going to be able to comprehend the text or share what is happening in the story.

“That’s where the work that I do comes into play … so they can comprehend what they’re reading,” Muir said.

“The work we are doing in our schools is so impactful for our students so they can make meaning of the text on the page,” she said.

They do different assessments through the year to see where students’ reading skills are and students can transition in or out of reading intervention any time during the year.

“There are some students who start kindergarten and continue with intervention throughout different grade levels,” she said.

“It’s extremely rewarding to know students have finally solidified those skills enough that going back to working in the classroom will be enough instruction for them,” she said.

“I just hope along with those skills will come a love of reading,” she added.

Kenwood Principal Michel Bechstein praised Muir for the work she does with students who struggle to read.

“She has done such a great job not only at helping these students … she’s also great with relationships. The kids love going to her classroom, they love working with her,” he said.

Kiwanian Eric Myers, who had Muir in one of his classes at BGSU, said it was great to have someone locally grown become an excellent teacher.

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