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Release: May 3, 1999

UI America Reads program ends second year with celebration May 7

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Tutors and students in the University of Iowa’s America Reads Tutoring Program will have a chance to say goodbye to one another during a special celebration Friday, May 7.

The end-of-year event, which marks the program’s second anniversary, will begin at 7 p.m. at Grant Wood Elementary School, 1930 Lakeside Drive. While the celebration is primarily for tutors, students and their parents, the public is welcome to attend.

The program is expected to last about 60 minutes and include presentations of certificates, comments by officials from the school districts and the UI College of Education -- where America Reads is based -- as well as readings by the participating children. Refreshments will be served.

"There are many elementary-age children in our community who can benefit from additional aid in their reading development," said Peggy Rowell, America Reads program director at UI. "We have excellent teachers in our schools, but because of large class sizes they cannot devote as much individual attention as they would like. America Reads Tutoring Program gives assistance to teachers free of charge to the public schools."

Initiated by President Clinton two years ago, America Reads is a nationwide tutoring program designed to improve the reading skills of children in first through third grades, including students for whom English is a second language.

The UI program’s tutors include about 28 work study students and10 volunteers who represent a variety of majors. Tutoring sessions take place in six elementary schools and neighborhood centers.

Rowell said the program requires a considerable commitment by students and tutors. Tutors get 20 hours of training before beginning and attend hour-long workshops each week for an entire semester. Each tutor is paired with two to four children and meets one-on-one for 30 minutes two to three times per week, using individualized lesson plans and reading materials that match the child’s interests and instructional needs.

Rowell says the commitment has paid off in the program’s two years.

"Teachers and tutors have noticed improvements in the reading development of the children in such areas as attitude, confidence, vocabulary and sight words, fluency, comprehension and enjoyment in writing stories," she said. "We have been able to impact more than 100 children each semester."

While the spring session is almost over, America Reads will offer a tutoring session for six weeks this summer beginning June 14. Parents interested in having their children tutored should contact their child’s school, local library or neighborhood center. People interested in tutoring may contact Rowell at 335-5613.

EDITOR’S NOTE: America Reads will continue tutoring students through May 7. Media interested in interviewing and/or photographing participants may call Stephen Pradarelli at (319) 384-0007 to make arrangements.