Craig Rotary Club sponsors reading pen pals

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The Craig Rotary Club and Ridgeview Elementary School students have teamed up this spring in an effort to improve reading skills and reading interest in youth. Local Rotarians and the students have become pen pals reading pen pals, and the project has been a success.

The reading pen pal program couples students with local Rotarians. The goal is for each student to read a total of three books and answer a questionnaire about the books before and after reading. Once a book has been read, the child mails the questionnaire back to his or her sponsoring Rotarian, and the Rotarian in turn mails a new book to the student. All the students who participate in the program get to keep each book they read.

Ridgeview Elementary School Principal Pete Bergmann said the program was designed to spur the reading desire of children who don't necessarily have a love of reading.

"What brought us to the program was the Rotary Club contacted us and said they want to do a partnership with Ridgeview they wanted to know how they could help make a difference with the kids," Bergmann said. "There were lots of ideas of what the group possibly could do. We arrived at the book club. It was something that wasn't totally time consuming and was also manageable from both ends."

Bergmann said the concept for the reading pen pals came from the school's summer intervention program. Summer intervention programs are part of summer school. The summer reading lab is a program for teachers and students, he said.

Marilyn Bouldin is the Rotary Club president-elect. She said she was delighted with the idea of the reading pen pals.

"Pete Bergmann approached us to design a mentoring reading program at the elementary school level," Bouldin said. "We thought many kids would benefit by a positive role model relationship with an adult who values reading."

Approximately 18 Rotarians participated in the pen pal program with 26 students from the school.

"I think the program has been a great success definitely," Bouldin said. "Most of the Rotarians have heard from their pen pals. This is a real relationship-building program with lots of one-on-one work. The kids get to practice reading and writing. I think it has been real positive."

The Book Club Pen Pals program will come to fruition in April with a final session of one-on-one reading with the students at Ridgeview Elementary School and the Craig Rotary Club members.

"This is the first time we've tried this program and it's something we will do again," Bergmann said. "There will be some fine tuning to it. The program really provides an incentive to read and connects the community with the school it's a win-win."

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