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Kansas City recognized as literacy model thanks to programs like Lead to Read KC

If you read the KC Star Editorial page today, it said “KC becomes a national model in boosting third-grade reading” (Kansas City Star, May 18, 2016, P 6A). The recognition comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Ralph Smith who presented the award to Mayor James last month . As part of the award celebration, Lead to Read KC was among the organizations highlighted for its role in helping Kansas City improve third grade literacy. As well, Turn the Page KC showcased Lead to Read KC  on a tour of literacy programs, because we directly contributed to improved reading scores in our urban classrooms. The tour featured classrooms at Garfield Elementary with volunteers from DST, Central Bank and Baker, Sterchi, Cowden & Rice.

Lead to Read KC is contributing to reading score improvements in our city, according to Mayor James, and is cited as a key partner in the city-wide literacy initiative. “Turn the Page KC, in partnership with Lead to Read,  has recruited 715 volunteers to help children learn to read, said James. “We’ve seen the needle move on third grade reading proficiency, which, while still way too low, has moved from a city-wide average 33% in 2011 to 49% last year” he added in his February 22 blog post.

Each week more than 730 volunteer Readers go into urban schools to read one-on-one with first through fourth grade students. This one-on-one interaction with urban students proves powerful in the classroom, according to Kathi Frey, first grade teacher at Garfield Elementary.

Finding time for individualized instruction “is every teacher’s dream,” according to Frey. That’s why the “thirty minutes of time with an adult… meant the world to each of my students,” Frey said.

Fellow teacher, Annette Rhinehart echoes the praises for Lead to Read KC in her classroom.

“One of my favorite times of the week is when I can just stand back and look around at EVERY student actively engaged with a community volunteer in reading or conversing about reading!”

Thank you to our volunteer Readers and all of our teachers who open their classrooms to Lead to Read KC. This year we more than doubled the number of students who are paired each week with a Lead to Read Reader, and our recent survey shows that 97 percent of our Readers are likely to continue volunteering next year.  We look forward to “moving the literacy needle” even higher next year as we create a community of readers.

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