The 2011 Pryor Leadership class at William Jewell College has announced that they will work with the national “Raising A Reader” program to combat illiteracy in pre-kindergarten children. Graduating seniors participating in the Pryor Leadership Studies Program at William Jewell pick a Legacy Project each year in an effort to make a lasting difference in their community.
To help raise awareness of the new project and to bring attention to volunteer opportunities, the Pryor Leadership class has scheduled a news conference at 10 a.m. Friday, May 6 at the Plaza Library, 4801 Main St. in Kansas City, Mo. Scheduled to be in attendance is Dr. Gabrielle Miller, National Director of the Raising A Reader program, along with Jewell alumni and Pryor Leadership program founders Fred and Shirley Pryor and members of the Pryor Leadership class.
“Raising A Reader has already been implemented in over 2,500 locations around the nation, but it has not yet been adopted in Missouri,” said Pryor student Allyson Hall. “This program will partner with parents to teach them how to help their children learn to read and provide opportunities to those children at risk of illiteracy.”
The Pryor Leadership class is in the process of completing the first phase of their project. This phase includes recruiting a host agency for the Raising A Reader program in the Kansas City area as well as holding a community gathering for the host, Pryor Fellows, community members and participants in order to raise awareness and funds for the program. The goal is to have this phase completed by May. The next phases are aimed at identifying coordinators and implementers of the program as well as assessing the potential for growth and expansion within the community and the state of Missouri. The end goal is to reach 500 children in the Kansas City area.
Senior Caitlin Wall, a member of the 2011 Pryor Legacy class, talked about the importance of the program: “I remember when my parents read to me,” Wall said. “There are a lot of parents who don’t have the time to do that with their kids. You want to see each child have as much opportunity as they can. You want them to have access to books and be able to share that with their parents.”
According to the “Raising A Reader” web site, the national nonprofit organization offers local agencies an evidence-based early literacy and parent engagement program that has been proven to improve the reading readiness skills of children ages 0-5. “With nearly half of all U.S. children entering kindergarten lacking the early reading skills needed for success in school, Raising A Reader’s vision is that one day all children will enter kindergarten in love with the printed page and ready to learn to read,” according to the site. “Raising A Reader’s mission is to engage parents in a routine of daily ‘book cuddling’ with their children from birth to age five to foster healthy brain development, parent-child bonding and early literacy skills critical for school success.”
For more information about involvement with the local project, contactRaisingAReaderKC AT gmail DOT com. To find out more about the national Raising A Reader program, go to www.raisingareader.org.
Each year, William Jewell College students preparing to graduate from the prestigious Pryor Leadership Studies Program work together to organize a service-learning project that aims to leave a lasting impact on the community and all who are involved. Endowed by Jewell alumni Fred and Shirley Pryor, the Pryor Leadership Studies Program teaches personal, vocational and civic leadership through critical reflection, mentoring and “real-world” experience. In order to graduate as Pryor Leadership Fellows and receive the corresponding leadership certificate, students complete a course in leadership theory and assessment, compile a leadership portfolio, serve in volunteer and vocational internships and participate in an Outward Bound experiential learning exercise.