Education

National nonprofit lends its weight to CMS reading push

(L-R) Zechariah Wood and Daniel Diaz, fifth-graders at Stoney Creek Elementary, talk about a book in the media center on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015.
(L-R) Zechariah Wood and Daniel Diaz, fifth-graders at Stoney Creek Elementary, talk about a book in the media center on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

The national nonprofit group Reading Partners will bring its expertise to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools quest to recruit reading volunteers in January.

Sharon Harrington, an assistant vice president at Johnson C. Smith University, has been hired as executive director of the new Charlotte program. The group plans to recruit and train more than 100 volunteers to read with children at three CMS elementary schools – Grier, Oakdale and Stoney Creek – and Sugar Creek Charter School in Charlotte.

CMS Superintendent Ann Clark has already been pushing district employees and community members to volunteer an hour a week with students who needs help building reading skills or graduating from high school.

Reading Partners, which began in California in 1999, also joins Read Charlotte, an initiative supported by local corporations and foundations to increase reading proficiency among young children. Executive Director Munro Richardson said he welcomes Reading Partners to the mix.

“It’s a well researched model of reading intervention,” he said. “They know what they’re good at and which students they best serve.”

The Duke Endowment is supporting the Reading Partners expansion into Charlotte.

All of these efforts come as the latest exam results show that only 56 percent of elementary students in CMS and North Carolina are reading at grade level, while fewer than half are deemed on track for college-ready reading skills.

To volunteer with Reading Partners email volunteerNC@readingpartners.org. Learn more about the national program at http://readingpartners.org/.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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