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Reading Program at J.H. Hines Partners Community With Students

Nov. 15, 2010

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On a typical day after school at J.H. Hines elementary, you'll find a number of kids spread out in the library, working with volunteers, mostly Baylor students, who are working to help them improve their reading skills. 5th grader Desiree is with her mentor, Emily Hart, reading "The Steadfast Tin Soldier." Those questions are important. Desiree will be in middle school next year, and J.H. Hines is working with the Greater Waco Education Alliance on this program to ensure that no student leaves in June without being to read at middle school level. Ashley Weaver of the Waco Foundation and the Greater Waco Education Alliance is coordinating this program.

And so in August, Ashley worked with volunteers, training them to in turn train the students to become proficient readers. Ten weeks later, they're seeing positive results. That's no surprise. Last year, every student in the program improved one to three grade levels. In short, in just that short time, even the student with the greatest reading difficulty in the program improved a full grade. Already this year, students are seeing that same sort of improvement. On a day that KWBU visited, J.H. Hines students were reading books in grade levels a bit higher than when they started. As Ashley Weaver told the mentors during training, the books are carefully selected to challenge the students in conjunction with their grade level.

That's Baylor student Joseph Hawkins working with his student Tavaris. This is Joseph's second year volunteering. He saw his student take a huge leap last year, and that experience has him working towards that again with Tavaris. Those relationships that the students and their volunteers are building bring a smile to the face of J.H. Hines principal Archie Hatten. He has seen some community celebrities come out as well, and he says that the partnerships that are being built are meaningful, representing a goal of the Greater Waco Education Alliance coming to fruition.

Ashley Weaver will be sharing about improving literacy in this week's Summit at the Waco Convention Center starting Wednesday. Tomorrow, we'll continue to focus on issues related to the summit at J.H. Hines Elementary, looking at a program that helps students improve in math and science in addition to reading. Stories on the summit will continue throughout the week. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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