GRANTS LICK, Ky. — Volunteers in Campbell County are helping kids who’ve struggled with reading get up to speed. They just celebrated the first year of a program that has the potential to make a major impact on students’ lives.
Cindy Jordan taught for 30 years, both in middle school and high school. She is now retired. But she felt an inch that she’s been able to scratch by reading with kids at Grants Lick Elementary School.
“We had the best time. And we just clicked, and looked forward to seeing each other every week, and actually kind of sad to see it end,” Jordan said.
The school year itself is ending, and so too is the first year of the Campbell County School District’s Reading and Mentor Program, or RAMP.
Jordan and other volunteers helped first graders at Grants Lick and other schools in the district improve their reading throughout the year.
“It’s been a really great experience. It’s been neat to watch him grow, and progress throughout the year,” said Jennie Finke, who is a Campbell County teacher herself, but volunteered during her downtime to participate in RAMP. “And really, I got as much out of it as the child did. It was just really rewarding to… feel like I was doing something good for someone else.”
THe volunteers would come in once a week for 30 minutes to read with kids and cover the Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Program.
“At first I thought, ‘Oh I have a curriculum, I’m going to have to do my homework.’ But once I got into the book and saw what the activities were, I felt comfortable with that,” Jordan said. “And I think it’s beneficial to the students. The two that I worked with, you could see an improvement.”
Campbell County School District Teaching and Learning Leader Myssi Turner said the district’s goal is for every student to be a fluent reader by third grade.
“When children are on grade level with their reading skills by grade three, that significantly decreases any trouble or any barriers that they will have,” Turner said.
Turner said the one-on-one mentoring helps the “striving readers,” as the district describes them, to focus. Thanks to RAMP, Turner said Measures of Academic Points, or MAP results, have increased by 15 to 20 points.
“We’ve also seen kids who were non-readers that didn’t like to read. And now they’re walking down the hallway with their book reading. So it just melts your heart,” Turner said. “I really promote this as bringing joy and inspiration into your own life by giving. Because that’s what truly happens.”
Turner said kids who are strong readers are more likely to succeed in all other subjects.
She said RAMP is a scripted program that doesn’t require a lot of preparation time. Anyone can volunteer, even those with no background in education. Anyone who wants to sign up to be a mentor can do so by contacting Turner or visiting the district’s RAMP website.