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Yard signs ‘surprise’ students, parents, neighbors

The following is a press release from Rowan-Salisbury Schools

(Salisbury, NC – May 23, 2017) Rowan-Salisbury students love to read – and now all citizens and visitors to Rowan County know it too!

The words ‘fun, happy & awesome’ lit up social media with excitement as parents proudly posted photos of their children displaying their Extraordinary Reader Lives Here yard signs. The signs were a result of the students who championed the superintendent’s challenge to read.      

The Challenge

In order to qualify for this honor, students were presented with the goal to meet the superintendent’s ‘Spring Break Reading Challenge.’ They were charged to read 80 or more Achieve3000 articles at 75% success.  …And our students took the challenge to heart and read articles!

“Research tells us that when students read 80 Achieve3000 articles at 75% success, their Lexile reading score could double and could even possibly more than double,” says Dr. Lynn Moody, Superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools.  “We have many students that have achieved this goal and many students that have passed this goal already. Yet, we want all our students to be successful.” 

The Surprise

To pull this project off successfully, it took community collaboration. The yard signs were funded through the generosity, support and partnership of Fred and Alice Stanback. 

Miller Davis Agency worked with district staff to design a sign that would delight students while advertising to the world that this student is an extraordinary reader. 

The RSS maintenance department assured that the signs were delivered to schools in time for the big distribution and that schools had an adequate supply.

Each school in the district created their own plan on how they would surprise the students in distributing the signs. Some schools carried folks with the signs on buses, while others drove in cars to conquer their school areas before the children arrived home. China Grove Elementary Principal Lea Anne Thomas said, “My folks are having lots of fun with the reading challenge and delivering the signs. Many of our staff dressed in costumes to make the surprise even more fun.”

Magic Happened

And then the magic happened! Approximately 1500 students in Rowan-Salisbury Schools received a surprise in the late afternoon on May 18th. Teams from each school spread out across the county to place signs in students’ yards that achieved the reading success. When students returned home from school, many were greeted with a big surprise. A sign that reads, “An Extraordinary Reader Lives Here #IREAD80” welcomed them home.

School staff and parents used the hashtag #IREAD80 to post photos on social media. And the comments and photos began pouring in…


“This is so awesome and one of my favorite things that Rowan-Salisbury Schools has EVER done.” Abby Covington

“Madison was all smiles when she walked out her front door. It felt great to give students like her the recognition they deserve.”  Pam Drye


“Happiness! I was happy, very happy! I think my dad was happier than I was!” Addie 

“I was excited about the achievement I earned at school. I’m proud my neighbors can see when they go up the road.” Dalton 

“I was excited about the achievement I earned at school. I’m proud my neighbors can see when I feel proud. I worked hard to achieve my goal. Everyone can see my hard work!”

“When people ride down the road they see I read 80 articles. So they know I’m getting smarter!” Matthew 

“I was excited to see the yard sign, it showed that all of my hard work had paid off.” Amanda

“It was interesting because I didn’t expect it and whenever it did come, it was surprising.”  Christy

“It was really neat that our teachers took their time to come out and show how proud they were of us.” Amanda

“We are very grateful for having them in our yards!”  “Family members are very proud of us.”  Christy

“I was happy and had tears in my eyes!”  Madison

“It made me feel excited and important.”  Sophia

“I was surprised and I wasn’t expecting it.” Krisily 

“I didn’t know about it until I got off the bus, and my stepmom asked if I saw my sign.  I was happy.  I felt surprised and excited because I didn’t think they would do that, but I said, ‘Oh wow, that’s really cool.” Kayle

“My mom was the first person to see it, and she said that I need to keep up the hard work.  I thought I was paying attention and working hard.” Riley


“It was a special surprise for Julia Leigh!” She was very excited to see the sign in our front yard! Way to go Rowan-Salisbury School System….loving the new recognition plan for these hard workers!” – Melissa Burleson – 3rd and 5th grade parent

“What an awesome surprise! Such a fun way to recognize students for all their hard work. Super proud of my Extraordinary reader!” – Tamesha Overcash 3rd grade parent 

“It was such a welcoming surprise when we arrived home earlier this week and saw a sign in the yard for our ‘extraordinary reader.’  What was even more amazing was when we left home later that same evening we had not one, but two signs in the yard, one for each of my children!  Both of my children commented that it made them feel very special to have such loving staff at their schools who drove all the way to our house in Gold Hill to put these signs in our yard.  It definitely shows that RSSS is going the extra mile to encourage our children to be the best they can possibly be and always strive for excellence!” Ashlinn Trexler, Morgan and Erwin parent

“It was a wonderful feeling to see the look on Gage’s face when he realized he had been rewarded for his hard work!” Misty Trexler, Morgan Parent

“I would like to send a thank you to RSS for taking the time to recognize all the extraordinary readers by placing yard signs in each of their yards! This is a huge encouragement for kids to keep up the good work!!” Stacie Walters, Morgan Parent

Random Community Responses

“I love seeing the extraordinary reader lives here signs all around  yards.”

“A family that reads together Achieves together.”

Dr. Moody has presented challenges throughout the school year with student rewards of iREAD40, iREAD80, and iREAD120 bracelets.

For All Students 

“The beauty of Achieve3000 is that every child can read articles at their own reading level,” says Dr. Moody. “The focus is on meeting children where they are and helping them grow. Every child, regardless of whether they are a great reader or a not so great reader, can become an “Extraordinary Reader!”

The district began implementing the Achieve3000 program in the fall of 2015 with training educators on how to integrate Achieve with their curriculum.  Achieve3000 is intended to provide support and encouragement for students to read both in the classroom and at home. Teachers use Achieve when covering topics in their classrooms by having all their students read the same article at the student’s individual reading level. This allows each student the opportunity to participate with engaging classroom discussions, to learn and to grow.  Students can also read articles of interest at their own leisure, while increasing their levels of reading. Improving student literacy is a major contributor to improving academic success.

Literacy is the focus of the Strategic Plan for the Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

So, the next time you happen to be driving around Rowan County, be sure to check out where the extraordinary readers live. You will know instantly by the sign that greets you!


EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.