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Fairview takes personal approach

By Sarah Kucharski

Students at Fairview Elementary School in Sylva have a unique opportunity to experience the benefits of reading through three signature programs that encourage literacy development.

The Rockin’ Readers program offers students in grades Kindergarten through second grade a chance to partner up with an adult volunteer who will read to them for 15 minutes each week. Readers meet with their assigned child in the school’s lobby where two sets of double rocking chairs are located.

“The idea was to have a bond between one student and one adult, the same adult every week,” said Linda Minor, program coordinator.

Readers are responsible only for reading, not for teaching children how to read, which helps make the process an unthreatening proposition for volunteers, said volunteer reader Kirsten Morgan.

Morgan, a former teacher herself, signed up to be a volunteer at the start of this school year after her sister, who is getting her own teaching degree, recommended it. Morgan drops off her eldest daughter for Kindergarten class, then stays at the school an extra half-hour to read to two children.

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Volunteers are encouraged to give whatever time they have — be it a lunch break, or all day from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. — to help ensure that each of the approximately 300 students in grades K-2 have an opportunity to partner up with a reader.

“I have children who say, ‘Oh please Ms. Minor can I have a reader today?’” Minor said.

Volunteers have come from throughout the community — retired teachers, ministers, parents and even members of Western Carolina University’s track and cross country teams have been regular Rockin’ Reader volunteers. School reading advocates played off that sports and literacy connection this holiday season, teaming up with the Western for Reading with the Lady Cats.

Fairview also has a program that brings local government representatives into the classroom to read. The representatives speak about their jobs and read books such as Dr. Suess classics. Participants have included Sen. John Snow, D-Murphy, and Rep. Phil Haire, D-Sylva.

“About every year I go out there and read,” Haire said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, enjoyed being out with the kids.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer at Fairview School should contact Minor at 828.586.2819.

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