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Business leaders volunteer to read to classrooms

Re-2 NewsTheresa HamiltonGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted PhotoMeriya Stickler enjoys reading to Mrs. Clarks first-grade class at Wamsley Elementary.
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The students in Mrs. Clark’s first-grade class leaned in and listened intently as Meriya Stickler read “A Fly Went By.” Stickler was in the Wamsley classroom as part of the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce’s brand new Leaders for Readers program. The program pairs business leaders with classrooms in need of guest readers.”I had originally volunteered to read twice a week,” said Stickler as she left the classroom. “But it was so much fun, I may have to sign up to do this more.”Though the program began in earnest last week, it began as an idea with the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce director Annick Pruett several months ago, after she read an article indicating that the earlier students begin to read, the more likely they are to become active in their community as an adult.”I began talking with the school district about this idea over three months ago,” said Pruett. “There is a lot of discussion about how to get the younger populations involved in their community, and I thought that if we could continue encouraging students to read and the importance of reading, it would be a start to encouraging community involvement.”Pruett thought that the Chamber of Commerce could take a lead role in this initiative, and then began seeking partners. The Garfield Re-2 school district was an obvious connection. Wal-Mart was the next organization to jump on board.”They were looking for something that they could be involved with in the community, and they like to be kid-focused, so this seemed to be a perfect fit,” said Pruett. Wal-Mart will be providing many readers for the classrooms after they get through the holiday rush, and they are fronting many of the administrative costs associated with starting up a program.When she took the idea to the chamber board of directors, they gave her their enthusiastic support.”They loved it,” said Pruett. “They liked that it involved kids, that it put them out in the community, and it was something that we had been talking about – how can we engage the kids more. I immediately had 15 volunteers.” Barb Schumacher with America’s Mortgage Alliance read to Laura App’s third-graders at Highland Elementary. “I thought it was great,” said Schumacher. “I love kids, and they were very responsive.”Schumacher read a book that was near and dear to her heart, “Little House in the Big Woods,” a part of the Little House on the Prairie series. “When I was in third grade, my teacher read it to us a chapter at a time. She’s still my favorite teacher to this day. I always wanted to live back in that day.”The Leaders For Readers program is continually seeking volunteers. If you would be interesting in volunteering to read in a classroom, please contact either Theresa Hamilton at Garfield Re-2 (625-7621) or Annick Pruett with the Rifle Chamber (625-2085).Theresa Hamilton is director of districtwide services for Garfield School District Re-2.


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