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Like any principal, Doug Timm is concerned about all of his students at Carrie Downie Elementary School, but thanks to a new pilot program he can scratch one of his top worries off of his list…struggling readers. For the first time in its history, the Reading Assist Institute (RAI) has placed 13 full-time reading interventionists in Colonial schools. The partnership with Colonial and this arm of the AmeriCorps program are considered as a model for other school districts in the state. For students in grades 1 through 3 it means daily 45-minute sessions with a reading interventionist.

“I feel very lucky to have Reading Assist at Carrie Downie,” said Timm. “It is really helping address a need that we have to get students the reading help they need.”

Sherrie Clark, a Supervisor in Colonial’s Curriculum and Instruction Division agrees saying, “Struggling readers from six schools will benefit from the one-on-one tutors…this extra support will help students gain the most fundamental skill in life-reading!”

All of the Americorp tutors received 50 hours of training for the intervention program and all bring diverse backgrounds and experiences to classrooms. Among the 13 interventionists now serving in Colonial are people like Ryan Landis, a recent college graduate, and Jewel Liadi who has 17 years of experience as a teacher.

“The fact that RAI has been given the opportunity to work one-on-one with 90 students in the Colonial School District full time is too good to pass up,” Landis said. “I hope to improve each and every one of my kids’ reading skills and with that, their confidence in future life and learning.”

The RAI program was made possible thanks to a $192,000 grant from the Governor’s Commission on Community and Volunteer Service. The grant is the largest award given in Delaware this year. The funds support stipends for the 13 reading interventionists who in turn give students what Superintendent Dr. Dusty Blakey considers a priceless gift. “I believe this partnership will not only help Colonial students, but it will send a message that collaborative efforts on the part of educators are key to helping all students achieve academic success,” he said.

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