Education
5:20 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Businesses, Individuals Challenged To Join JCPS Reading Program

Every Wednesday during the 2012-2013 school year, employees from Creative Alliance carpooled to Byck Elementary School and spent their lunch hour reading with struggling students.

"It was amazing to me how much of a relationship I developed with my reader," says Mark Rosenthal, creative director for Creative Alliance.

This year, Creative Alliance will do it again, and Rosenthal is calling on more businesses to help Jefferson County Public Schools meet its 1,500 volunteer goal for the Everyone1Reads literacy program. 

The program allows volunteers to read with students once a week for half-an-hour is the district's largest volunteer program and has been around since 2004. This year, JCPS rolled out a new website to make it easier for individuals to register, but the district also wants to grow the several businesses (JCPS officials say at least 30) that partner with individual schools.

At Byck its Creative Alliance and Humana.

Rosenthal says when the program was introduced to his company the CEO said to take the time needed to participate. Six volunteers out of around 140 employees stepped up to spend their lunch with students at Byck.

“It’s not that difficult to break away from your job and the one thing I really discovered in doing so was what a wonderful break in the day it was, the workday. It refreshed my mind. It gave me a little bit of a reboot for the second half of my day.”

 Rosenthal's colleague and Every1Reads volunteer Mary Anne Vollmer says on Wednesday, someone will coordinate students, times and rides to participate in the program. It's the second year Creative Alliance has partnered with Byck and Rosenthal says the impact of the relationship extends beyond reading.  Students are picked based on their low state test scores, but JCPS officials say the Every1Reads program is working to help them toward proficiency. "We know that our students cannot succeed without the support of their school and their community," says JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens. "They cannot continue to achieve academically without reading on grade level."  According to JCPS, 40 percent of students in the program increased their level of proficiency on the state's reading test during the 2010-2011 school year.  Currently, there are around 1,200 volunteers who registered last year, but the goal is to increase that number while hopefully maintaining some previous participants, officials say.Hargens says she hopes to have 1,500 volunteers by the end of the month.  To register to participate click here.