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Jackie Carter Breeden’s Story About The Checker King

An Inspirational Story from Jackie Carter Breeden:

I am presently teaching 8th grade English at Albritton JHS on Fort Bragg in
North Carolina. I started teaching in my own classroom in 1979, at Welch JHS
in Welch, WV. The three years I spent there will remain in my memory
forever.

I taught 7-9th grade Remedial reading in a school with no textbooks – just
supplementary materials. This was my first full-time teaching experience.
The students in my class had reading levels from Pre-Primer stage to 6th
grade. I had my work cut out for me.

There is one student who stands out more than most. His name was “John.”
“John” was the best checker player I had ever encountered. He could barely
read on that Pre-Primer level at age 14, but he could play a mean game of
checkers. He absolutely hated to be beaten – especially by me. I realized I
could use this to my advantage.

I made up some checkerboards that had reading skills on each square. I put
things like; “Give me a word with a short a sound”, Which word has a long e
sound – bet, beet, bat”, and so on. The rule was – before “John” could make a
move, he had to perform the task. He had problems at first, and I would beat
him every time. Eventually, “John” got to where he could perform the tasks,
and was back to winning. I would let him keep those tasks he mastered on the
boards for a while so he could beat me. Then I would replace those with
harder skills.

I am proud to say that after two years with me, “John” was able to read on a
third grade level. We played checkers like this at least twice a week. I
don’t know if he ever got any better with his reading as I have lost contact
with him since I moved away. I will always remember the checker king, and I
hope that he has continued to be a successful reader.

E-Mail Jackie Carter Breeden!

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