Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff Mentor teacher Deb Doyle leads a group of about 65 children to the gymnasium at Red Deer College for some activities while their parents attend a meeting with administrators of the Reading College on Tuesday.

Literacy program marks six years

Reading College making an impact

Reading College has expanded to include students from 10 elementary schools with Red Deer Public Schools.

It’s the sixth summer for the free, four-week literacy enrichment program developed by The Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools. Held at Red Deer College in July for students at the end of Grade 2, teachers provide support to improve their reading and writing skills.

Foundation executive director Bruce Buruma said the program used to take eight students from eight schools. This year the program will help 63 students, but now the number of students varies depending on need.

“The kinds of students that we’re working on are struggling readers where English is their first language. They are almost there, they just need that extra support over the summer,” Buruma said.

“The impact really, really has been very significant for a lot of kids.”

Students are recommended for the program by teachers.

On Tuesday, students and their families attended a Reading College kickoff barbecue where they received information on the upcoming program.

Supported by Central Alberta Optimist Clubs, Red Deer College, Prairie Bus Lines, Red Deer Rebels and others, the foundation needs to raise about $85,000 annually to operate the Reading College that includes busing and meals for students.

Last year, money raised locally by Tim Hortons’ Smile Cookie campaign went towards the program.

“We’re really delighted to bring Tim Hortons on as a partner because that will help make the program sustainable.”

He said the school district has even received calls from parents outside the city who want to enroll their children into the program.

“Reading College is well known across the community. People are realizing the huge impact it has, and it’s really making a difference for many kids. That’s the result we’re seeing year in and year out.”

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