Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. launches ‘Reading, Writing and Rewards’ program at local Kentucky school
Through a new community partnership, William Wells Brown Elementary will sharpen its focus on “Reading, Writing and Rewards.”
The University of Kentucky and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s Education Foundation have stepped up to make sure children who need extra help will have the resources they need, along with incentives to improve their reading, comprehension and writing skills.
Lisa Higgins-Hord, assistant vice president for community engagement at UK, invited colleague Kenneth Jones to bring his fraternity on board with the project. She thanked him and several members gathered Thursday for the kickoff, saying, “You will connect with students and open their minds to fantastic journeys.”
Jones noted that the Alpha Beta Lambda Chapter has long been involved with education through mentoring, the annual Unity Breakfast and an essay contest, to name a few areas. Partnering with William Wells Brown for “Reading, Writing and Rewards” is yet another way to inspire students.
“We’re excited about embracing this program, and we can’t wait to get started,” Jones said.
Speaking to the third, fourth- and fifth-graders in the gym, Higgins-Hord called reading a crucial key in life.
“It unlocks so many treasures you haven’t even thought about,” she said. “With a book, you are unlimited in your imagination and your ideas.”
That evening, the school hosted the 20 students selected for this year’s program, along with their families, to review the objectives and expectations. Staff chose these fourth- and fifth-graders based on their most recent MAP scores, which indicated they are reading below grade level.
Through the new initiative, participating students will receive free books and writing supplies and will earn “Alpha bucks” to trade for prizes.
“We’ll steer them toward their range but allow them to pick the actual books,” said Principal Yvonne Peace, whose school librarian chose the titles with input from students themselves.
Each child will write a one-page summary after finishing a book. The more books read, the more points earned and the bigger the reward. Teachers will track and evaluate the students’ progress at least three times during the school year.
“Each time, we’ll look for growth and see if the program is effective,” Peace said.
In the end, the children and their parents will complete a UK survey to assess the impact on the students’ academic performance, their perceptions toward school in general and their confidence in their own abilities.
As Peace noted, “Our goal is always to improve academic achievement.”