Since 2002, the Kingsport Kiwanis Club has partnered with Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools to provide one-on-one assistance with young readers.
According to recent national studies, high school graduation rates are impacted dramatically by reading levels at the end of third grade. Family poverty also play a significant role in retaining students through high school. Because of these statistics, there is an increased focus on ensuring third-grade students can read at the recommended DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) level before entering the fourth grade.
This goal provides an opportunity for the Kingsport Kiwanis Club to further its mission of serving children in the community. The two Kingsport schools were selected because of the unique challenges they face, including the number of single-parent families and a high enrollment turnover.
After beginning the partnership over 16 years ago, the mission of reading proficiency remains at the forefront of education for Kennedy and Roosevelt. Kennedy has incorporated many new programs to encourage young readers. Some of these programs are designed to increase reading outside of the classroom. In the fall of 2018, Debbie Allen and other Kennedy faculty members set a goal of giving third-grade students - through various programs, donations and events - one book per month to take home and keep.
“As of December, third-grade students have received seven to eight books. Not only are students receiving books, but more importantly they are excited to receive them,” Debbie explains.
The Kiwanis reading partnership is an important program that facilitates children learning to read and interacting with adults that are not affiliated with schools or their family.
When Kiwanis volunteers show up to read, they go to an assigned classroom where the teacher selects a student to read that day. As soon as the volunteer enters the classroom, all the kids’ hands go up, hoping to be selected. The teacher may pick a student who needs a little extra help, or a student who is a good reader but, because of their proficiency, does not get a lot of one-on-one time to work through books. Once a student is selected, they read in the hall with the volunteer.
Depending on the grade and level of reading proficiency, the student may read the book with assistance from the Kiwanis volunteer or the volunteer may read the book the student has selected. For 30 minutes or longer, the child receives undivided attention from an adult that is meaningful for both academic and personal success. The time and attention given by a Kiwanis volunteer provides a positive impact on students that goes beyond reading and literacy.
If you are interested in joining Kiwanis to serve children and our community, visit the website at www.kingsportkiwanis.org.