Stateline Strong: Rockford Reads helps 2nd graders with reading skills

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Rockford Reads is a local program, aiming to help students who may be struggling academically. The program pairs volunteers with second graders in order to help them increase their reading scores.

Rockford Reads benefits both students and volunteers alike. 

“It’s amazing. I just like reading,” stated 2nd grader Khobe Hatley. Hatley is ust one of the students working to improve with a one-on-one volunteer mentor through the Rockford Reads program.

“It can really give me some information that I need to put in my brain. without reading I wouldn’t know about superheroes, nothing,” he said. 

He is just one of the 360 second graders in Rockford Public School District 205 working individually with a mentor. 

Volunteers with Rockford Reads sit down one-on-one with students for a 20 to 30 minute time period to help students not only work on their reading skills, but also build their confidence. 
“Research shows that students need to be at reading level by the time they reach third grade. They’re learning to read from kindergarten to second grade, then reading to learn from third grade and beyond,” explained Amy Ekstrom, the Family and Community Engagement Liason with RPS 205.
 
There are currently 180 volunteers working with 2 to 3 second grade students per week, but that’s not enough to cover the more than 2,100 students in the district. 
 
“Students benefit, but I think volunteers benefit just as much from the program. They get to actually read to the students and students read back to them. I think it’s a really great way for students to work on their social skills and build their confidence with reading,” said Ekstrom. 
 
“They pull them out, read with them, listen to them read, develop relationships with them,” Kristine Leider, the Principal at Gregory Elementary, explained. “Right now we are currently taking assessments to get results to see how well it’s working.”
 
Leider shared reading scores of three students currently working with a Rockford Reads volunteer. Two of the three have already shown improvement so far this year. 
 
If you wish to become a volunteer, contact Amy Ekstrom, the Family & Community Engagement Liason for Rockford Public School District 205 by calling 815-489-7295 or emailing her at ekstroa@rps205.com. 

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