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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Volunteers encourage reading

Local Iowa paper remembers my mother-in-law.

Volunteers provide one-on-one attention during a program sponsored by the Friends of the Rockwell City Library

    The Friends of the Rockwell City Library have a long history of encouraging reading among patrons of all ages. Several years ago, they expressed a desire to support the reading of elementary aged students, a group with which they had previously not worked directly. Ever-passionate about helping children read, Audrey Gray took the lead in developing plans for such a program.
    Through her volunteer work at the elementary school, Audrey knew that all students had independent reading goals that were set and monitored through a program called Accelerated Reader, or AR. She also knew that there were students who needed adult assistance or encouragement to meet their goals. In March, 2010, then, she launched a program called the All StARs, the “AR” a reference to the school's AR reading program.
    The program has continued since, and still operates at the SCC Elementary. Adult volunteers, or “coaches,” are paired with individual students. They meet after school for 40 minutes, twice a week, for three to four weeks each session. Each pair reads together, choosing books that are of interest to the students and at his/her independent level. As they finish a book, the student takes a brief quiz on the computer to demonstrate comprehension. These quizzes translate into points that count toward a personal reading goal.
    Audrey's passion, powers of persuasion, and winsome personality enabled her to recruit more than 40 adult volunteers over the years. Many of these were members of Friends of the Library, but she also called on others in the community. It's estimated that almost 100 children have participated and benefited. For some, participating in All StARs helped them meet their AR goals for the first time. For others, their “coaches” became mentors who took an interest in and encouraged their achievement.
    It was because of the success of the program that Audrey continued to look for ways to involve and benefit more children. She found coaches who could come earlier to work with first graders during the school day. She worked out rides for students who needed them. She ran the program during the summer before the district offered summer school. And she dreamed of helping volunteers in other communities of the SCC district to start a program at their local libraries.
Today, Audrey's legacy continues, thanks to the efforts of other Friends of the Library including Marlene Stacey. Mary Voith, and the dedicated coaches who selfless give of their time help children succeed at (and love!) reading.

My wife sent me a scan of the actual newspaper clipping. I used a free online OCR service to translate it. It didn't work too well. I think it might have been easier to simply enter the text manually.

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