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.

Categories: Blog

End of Year Celebration Dates

Last day of Reading for the 2015-16 School Year:
School Address Date
Wendell Phillips 1619 E. 24th Terrace, KCMO 5/3/2016
Garfield Elementary (Wednesday) 436 Prospect 5/4/2016
Garfield Elementary (Thursday) 436 Prospect 5/5/2016
King Elementary (Tuesday) 4848 Woodland 5/3//2016
King Elementary (Wednesday) 4848 Woodland 5/4/2016
Indian Creek Elementary 9801 Grand 5/5/2016
Whittier Elementary 295 South 10th KCK 5/10/2016
Boone Elementary 8817 Wornall Road 5/12/2016
Hope Leadership 2800 Linwood Blvd. 5/19/2016
Longfellow 2830 Holmes St, 5/5/2016
Gordon Parks 3715 Wyoming St 5/17/2016
Stay tuned for summer events, Fall Kick-Off and most of all we look forward to seeing you back in the fall!!
Categories: Blog

Spring Break Dates

  • Center School District (Boone & Indian Creek) March 14th-18th
  • Kansas City Public Schools (Wendell Phillips, Garfield & King) March 14th-18th
  • Kansas City Kansas Public Schools (Whittier) March 14th-18th
  • Hope Leadership Academy  March 24th-29th
Categories: Blog

UBER and #RideToRead

In honor of Read Across America Day (March 2nd) we’re partnering with our friends at Uber of Kansas City.  You can use the code RAAD16 to get your first ride FREE.  While in your first Uber ride, share using hashtag #RideToRead on social media and let everyone know you’re part of the community making a difference in 3rd grade reading scores!


Please note that the code (RAAD16) is only good for people who are new to UBER (or those who create a new account). The code is active now through the end of April.

“CHECK IN” at your school

Sharing another simple way to spread the word about Lead to Read.  Simply use the “check in” feature on Facebook when you arrive or depart from your school each week.  This allows your social media circles to be cued into how you’re spending you time and challenge them to find out more and even sign up to read!!


Categories: Blog

Lead to Read Teachers self-report the benefits of having Readers*

  • Students are EXCITED about reading
  • Positive experience provided by 1:1 relationships
  • Students are motivated, engaged and interested in reading
  • Any type of reading that we can get our kids to do is great (reading, listening and discussing)
  • Adding to the excitement of reading
  • Practicing reading fluency
  • Students get experience reading aloud

*Feedback provided to Lead to Read via 2015-16 Mid Year Review

Categories: Blog

Lead to Read is Getting Down to Business

“I’m saving you money!” That’s the conclusion I came to recently when I was talking with a group of employees at a local company about becoming Readers for Lead to Read. Many of the employees said their lunch hour is often spent shopping on the internet or dropping several dollars on lunch at a restaurant. Now, instead of spending money during the lunch hour, these employees have decided to spend one lunch hour a week reading with Lead to Read.

Starting in October, Lead to Read has been tapping into our business community to recruit Readers. Our goal is to identify companies that can provide groups of employees to champion/adopt classrooms together. The initial response has been very positive. Three years ago, Burns and McDonnell spearheaded our business partnership with nearly 80 Readers in three classrooms at Boone Elementary in south Kansas City. This group has expanded and is now reading in six classrooms each week.  This year we are pleased to announce similar business partnerships with CBIZ, DST, MVP Law, and Populous. And most recently we have forged a new partnership with the Kansas City Police Department, placing law enforcement Readers in our classrooms to help foster positive community relationships in our urban core.

Employees like Reading for Lead to Read because they can volunteer using their lunch hour and not give up evenings or weekends. It also builds camaraderie among employees because Lead to Read encourages carpooling. And most importantly, our Readers love making a difference in young people’s lives.

If you know of a business or organization that may be interested in partnering with Lead to Read or making a financial contribution, please send me the contact information.

Together we are creating a community of Readers!

Author: Pauly Hart

Categories: Blog

Meet Pauly Hart

Please welcome Pauly Hart to the leadership team, she is our Director of Reader Development.  We’re very excited to have her as part of the team.  Her goal is rounding up as many readers as we can place in classrooms!  

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On a serious note, her effort will be focusing on developing partnerships with area businesses and organizations to more quickly start new classrooms in our schools. For example, we have recently partnered with MVP Law Firm to champion a new first grade at Whittier Elementary. They start reading with the kids on January 26.

If you know of other businesses or organizations that she can contact, send her an email today! 

Pauly comes to Lead to Read with a diverse professional background that includes education, corporate communications, sales,and kitchen design. The common thread running through her work history is that she gravitates toward creative projects, and understands the power of human relationships. At Lead to Read she is applying her skills to help create a community of readers.

Categories: Blog

More Tips for Readers

We’ve been connecting with our teachers to get some feedback on strategies to best engage their students during our reading sessions.  Below are the tips shared by a first grade teacher at Garfield.   For the “animal name” strategies not all teachers use the animal names but most do teach the strategies. So for instance for “Skippy Frog”, the Reader could say, “Why don’t you try to skip that word. Read to the end of the sentence and then try the word again.”   These should give some ideas that will help with the kids.

Reading Strategies for Solving Words:

  • Eagle Eye- Look at the picture. Use the beginning letter of the word to make sense of it.
  • Lips the Fish- Get your mouth ready. Say the first sound.
  • Stretchy Snake- Slooooowly stretch each letter sound together.
  • Chunky Monkey- Break the word into chunks you know/look for parts you know.     c ar t     fl at    walk ing
  • Tryin’ Lion- Try to re-read the sentence. Think about what word would make sense.
  • Skippy Frog- Skip the tricky word. Read to the end of the sentence. Go back & try the word again.
  • Flippy Dolphin- Flip the vowel sound. If the short vowel sound doesn’t work try the long vowel sound.

Comprehension Strategies

Check For Understanding:

  • Start the book by making predictions. What do you think will happen in this story? Use the book cover or take a quick “picture walk” through the illustrations.
  • Ask questions and make comments during the reading process.
  • After reading a book, have your child tell you the events from the story in the correct order.
  • What was the problem in this story?
  • How did the character feel when…?
  • What was the main idea?
  • Encourage your child to make connections. Does this story remind you of another book you read, an event in your life, or a movie you have seen?
Categories: Blog, Readers, Reading