Reach Out and Read
Although it is commonly accepted that a child who reads at home develops into a strong, skilled reader, parents and children sometimes report that reading activities are given less than top priority at home. In fact, reading for pleasure is being crowded out of children’s lives due to changing life styles. Many parents are not able to be with their children as many hours as they would like. Due to job demands and pressing time schedules, a number of parents find little opportunity to help their children establish a nightly reading habit. The goal of the ROAR (Reach Out And Read) program is to increase the students’ interest in reading with the intent of building a life-long reading habit. Students learn that reading is important and worthwhile to people other than teachers.
Every Wednesday from November until May, volunteers spend an hour listening to first grade and special education students read. Each volunteer spends 20 uninterrupted minutes with a child, enabling the volunteer to spend time with three students each Wednesday. At the beginning, some students may still be nonreaders so volunteers will read the stories to the student. During the ROAR sessions each student is given help with difficult words and encouragement and praise for his/her improvement.
There are 20 full-time volunteers for the program. Some of the volunteers started as grandparents of first graders and have stayed on long past their own grandchildren. Others are suggested to the staff to ask by friends and other ROAR participants. Volunteers take the month of January off. If a listener is unable to attend, there are 20+ substitute volunteers available to be called.
The program was started by Ramona McMeekan (now retired) Coyne Center Grade School teacher in the 1970's. It was then transferred with her to Winola Elementary and started back up the second year after the school was annexed to Sherrard with the help of Arlene Duty and Katie Hall (retired teachers).
Now, ROAR Coordinator, Mary Bischoff (retired Sherrard high school teacher), works with first grade teachers, Julie Burns, Heather Barber, and Natalie Beaver to keep the program going strong.