Dr. Greg Roberts said the Craig Rotary Club is all about action.
“We do a lot,” he said. “We don’t just sit around and chat.”
That observation is evident in the organization’s Reading Buddy program, he said.
“One of our goals in Rotary is to help with reading, to help kids be more literate, stronger readers, and also to help kids succeed,” Roberts said. “This project is a way to combine those goals.”
In January, the Craig Rotary Club will begin its Reading Buddy program.
The club has partnered with literacy coordinator Shannon Samuelson to provide one-on-one reading mentorship with first- and second-graders at Ridgeview Elementary School.
For 45 minutes every other week, a Rotarian will go to Ridgeview to read with a student who is struggling to read.
“We hope to meet with kids at school either over breakfast or lunch,” said Roberts, a 10-year member of the club.
Roberts said 10 of 18 Craig Rotarians have signed up for the program, and Samuelson has selected 10 students who could benefit from mentorship.
“We’ll read to them, and they’ll read to us. We’ll practice reading in that way,” Roberts said. “And, we’ll also be another adult to support them in life.”
Although the program will initially focus on Ridgeview students, Roberts said he hopes Reading Buddy will expand.
“At some point we hope it will grow and we’ll be able to reach more schools,” he said. “It would be great if we could expand it to all the elementary schools.”
Roberts said the partnership with Ridgeview is the result of months of planning.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about, bouncing around, and trying to solidify for five or six months,” he said.
The reading material will be selected by Ridgeview teachers, Roberts said.
“We envision the teachers will drive that,” he said. “The teachers are best at figuring out what books are a good fit, what books are challenging, and what will be interesting to the individual kids.”
Roberts said the partnership should not be construed as a failing on the part of the school district.
“We’re not doing this because the schools are deficient in any way,” he said. “It’s just that lots of kids need extra help. There’s all kinds of kids, and all kinds of circumstances, and all kinds of reasons why kids might not be as successful as they could be.
“Every elementary school–aged kid can improve their reading, even if they’re pretty good at it.”
Roberts said the Rotary Club has been involved in similar projects over the years.
“We have a Book Buddies program where we go to all the second-grade classes in Craig,” he said. “Three or four times a year, a couple of Rotarians will visit each class and read books to the kids.
“We also have a dictionary program where we give a dictionary to each third-grader in the entire school district, including Maybell.”
The Rotary Club of Craig is also active in an international effort to eliminate polio, and it is involved in local projects including cleanups of highways and parks, Roberts said.
For more information on the Craig Rotary Club or any of its projects, call Greg Roberts at 824-0371.
Ben McCanna can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.