“The more you read, the more things you know.

The more you know, the more places you’ll go.”
-Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”

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Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Featured Reader: Lokesh Ravichandran

Lokesh Ravichandran, Staff Software Developer with DST, is the Site Coordinator for Garfield Elementary.  He has been instrumental in the growth and success of our team there.  Today at Garfield we have 120 DST Readers – many of whom Lokesh has personally recruited!


I am someone who believes that educating our children is the single most important thing we can do.  When our children are educated, it empowers them and in turn our community. It is something that I always tried to promote while living in India.  I was happy to find Lead to Read, an organization aligning with my volunteer interests right here in Kansas City!

Lead to Read KC’s vision of making sure local students have basic reading skills is a noble one. But what truly makes this an amazing organization is their ability to build relationships; showing students someone cares.

Readers get to see first-hand the impact they have on students. Watching kids start to love reading is what brings us back each week!

Lead to Read is bringing our community closer, making it kinder and more humane, all while helping our kids have a brighter future. I want to get as many people involved as possible with the program, because there are many more students to help, and I believe people are ready to get involved.

I Lead To Read because I can be involved in a program that makes a true difference.

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate…

Keeping up with Lead to Read KC’s growth is exciting and challenging! We are working as fast as we can, but we have to admit, some days it feels a little like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory. 

We laugh, but the reality is our growth is out pacing our funding.  We have launched 899 Readers this fall compared to 300 during last year’s launch. If your company has a foundation that supports community organizations, please let us know who to contact. And if you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to sponsor: 

  • one student this year ($84)  
  • 10 students this year ($840)
  • 100 student this year ($8,400)
  • or your best gift…simply click here for your personal donation
    (Many companies will match your donation – be sure to check!)

Watch Lucy and Ethel below, and enjoy a laugh on us. Thank you for understanding our growing pains!

Categories: Blog

Direct Your United Way Donation to Lead to Read KC

As the United Way Campaign gets underway at your workplace, please consider directing your donation to Lead to Read KC. Thanks to our fabulous volunteers, Lead to Read KC is experiencing rapid growth, and with growth come increased expenses. So, when your corporate United Way campaign asks you for a contribution, please direct your donation to Lead to Read KC. Here’s how:

  • Ask the United Way campaign manager at your workplace for a “Donor Direct Form” at the time of your pledge, or click on the Donor Direct link if using an online form.

  • On the write-in section of the form, state that you want to give your donation to another agency, and list Lead to Read KC 6022 North Strathbury, Kansas City, MO 64151

  • Include Lead to Read Employer Identification Number (EIN) 82-1256215. You must include this number on the form.

  • You then return the form or submit the online form, including the amount of your donation, to the campaign coordinator at your company.

  • Lead to Read KC will then receive the donation from United Way.

Thanks for considering supporting Lead to Read KC through your United Way donation.If you have questions about directing your United Way donation, please contact Pauly Hart [email protected]

Categories: Blog

2015-16 Garfield Survey Data

Lead to Read KC began using a very simple, but statically reliable survey, during it’s pilot year.  This survey is still conducted on students in the program.  The survey, found here, is administered by the teachers before the first Lead to Read session.  At the end of the school year, students are again asked for their responses to the same questions.

This year, we’ve seen some of the following :

  • We have complete data on 20 of our classrooms, both beginning and ending.
  • OF the 20 schools, representing approximately 450 students participating in Lead to Read there was a 27% increase in attitudes about Reading.
  • A first grade classroom at King Elementary showed tremendous growth with 79 % positive increase in attitude.

More to come…

Categories: Blog

Letter from a teacher – May 2, 2015


It is with great pleasure that I am writing to you about the Lead to Read Program. I am a First Grade Teacher at Garfield Elementary School in the Kansas City Public Schools. This was my first, of what I hope will be many, years of participation in the Lead to Read Program.

At Garfield we serve a large English Language Learner population. It is common for us to have between 20 and 23 different languages represented at our school every year. It is imperative that we provide meaningful literacy experiences to help all of our students grow as readers and writers, and to build vocabulary and oral communication skills. I believe the Lead to Read program gave the ELL students an extra needed boost in all of these areas.

Seeing the growth my students made with their reading and literacy skills this year was so exciting, and I have to attribute much of that growth to the time spent each week with our “Reading Buddies, as they were affectionately called in our classroom. It is every teacher’s dream to spend thirty minutes of one-on-one time with every student each week, but never a feasible reality. Thirty minutes of time with an adult that was “just for you” meant the world to each of my students. “Reading Buddy Wednesdays” were a highlight of every week!

I would like to bullet point some of the ways this program helped my students succeed this year:

  • Seventy-five percent of my students’ sight word recognition bank increased dramatically this year. Over sixty percent of my students mastered all taught sight words (160 sight words).
  • Science test scores increased over past years. I believe reading Informational Texts about specific science topics with our readers served as a way to better practice and remember Science content.
  • We give a standardized Reading Test three times a year called the NWEA Common Core Test for Primary Reading. Of the fifteen students who have completed the test as of today, thirteen students met their Spring Growth Goal Projection score! This large percentage of growth is thrilling, and I did not have such a high percentage of students meet their growth goals last year.

In closing, I would like to share a story about Jose and Gabe. Jose is a very quiet and shy student in my room. In the Fall, I would watch Gabe try to engage Jose in conversation week after week as they read together, only to see Jose quietly smile and nod his head now and then. And the months rolled by, and they kept reading together. A couple of weeks ago Jose was absent and I had the chance to ask Gabe how things were going with them. He smiled and said, “It’s going GREAT! At first he would barely talk to me and now he makes jokes with me all the time and always has books ready that he wants to read to me. He talks with me so much now and his and he is reading so well!” Gabe gave Jose confidence and a special kind of relationship that I don’t think Jose would have ever felt fully comfortable having with me, his “maestra”. So beyond all of the data and scores– THAT is what Lead to Read is giving to children all across Kansas City. I can only hope that one day all students in our city will be able to have a Gabe in their lives!


Kathi Frey
First Grade Teacher


Read another here.

Categories: Blog

Letter from a teacher – April 26th, 2016


Dear Sarah,

The phenomenal success of the Lead to Read KC program at Garfield is a reflection of the ever-increasing dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers on a continual basis. Each week students and volunteers read to each other, but more importantly they developed a relationship centered around reading. The relationships had many effects on students and in the classroom.

Students were extremely excited to begin the reading program and selected their own books to read. As you know, I was extremely nervous on the first reading day about having so many people in one room. As I look back, that was silly. There is plenty of room! And now 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!

It’s during those times that I just walk around and listen. Each time I am amazed. Just last week I listened to a young man who started the school year at a first grade level, yet he fluently read a third grade book and enjoyed it! As his reader was leaving, they set a goal for him. Our school is big on goal setting, we set goals daily. So the kids just assumed that they should set goals for their time with the readers and the volunteers just went with it, as I sit back and snicker just a little.

My students and I are extremely thankful for the gift of time, energy and enthusiastic support that our readers provide. It was a resounding successful year, but we couldn’t have done it without you! I would like to express my appreciation for all that you have done on the behalf of our students at Garfield.


Thank you,

Annette Rhinehart
Teacher, Garfield Elementary

Categories: Blog

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