Half Hollow Hills Central School District, New York

Half Hollow Hills Central School District, located in the central part of Long Island approximately 40 miles from New York City, is home to five elementary schools committed to promoting a love of reading through increasing independent reading and providing access to over 6,000 interactive, digital books on myON.

“The volume of reading students are engaging in has been outstanding,” said Mary Rettaliata, the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education. “The teachers are embracing myON, and the students are self-starting. They log in on their own, without prompting, after the school day ends and on weekends, and during summer and winter breaks.”

School leaders use both myON and myON News™, powered by News-O-Matic, to support students in meeting their independent reading goals, and the data shows it is working. The average number of books read at Half Hollow Hills is a remarkable 30 books per child, which with 3,032 students equals an astonishing 90,960 books read. Half Hollow Hills had the second highest amount of books read in New York State, next to the New York City Department of Education which has over 1.1 million students.

“For us, the fact that students are spending more time reading independently is an absolute success. We are providing them with more opportunities to foster that love of reading.”  

“myON allows our students to listen and read at varied reading levels and search for content by interest and topic. Teachers are also using it to differentiate instruction,” said Jolynn Sapia, the Director of Technology, Business and Libraries. 

Part of the literacy success at Half Hollow Hills is due to the strong investment and commitment to professional development and parent involvement. Half Hollow Hills started by offering professional learning to a small group of teachers that volunteered to pilot myON in their classrooms.

“We saw that students quickly started logging in at home. Teachers were impressed with the variety of literature available to students. The flexibility embedded within the platform that provided students with options to access literature that interested them, above their level, by utilizing the read aloud feature was also impressive,” said Sapia. “The following year we offered professional development and learning for all elementary teachers.”

“myON allows our students to listen and read at varied reading levels and search for content by interest and topic. Teachers are also using it to differentiate instruction.”

School leaders introduced parents and the community to myON during “myON tryON” events where the superintendent, elementary language arts coordinator, reading teachers and classroom teachers joined parents to “tryON,” or test out, myON in each of the elementary schools.

“The response was overwhelming,” remembered Sapia. “We had so many interested people!” 

Doing more to encourage independent reading with myON is part of the district’s plan. Teachers are increasingly using it as a digital literacy platform with their students, and as an important resource to support the curriculum.

“For us, the fact that students are spending more time reading independently is an absolute success. We are providing them with more opportunities to foster that love of reading,” added Rettaliata. “myON doesn’t replace the joy of reading a hardcopy book or engaging in read alouds at home and in school, but instead provides students with access to a large and diverse digital library within which they can keep exploring books on topics they are interested in.”