Posted by B Bush
Monthly Reading Circles for the Early Reading Project at Woodward Elementary are underway!  
(Above:  Brookhaven Rotary President Bonnie Hardage reading A Scarecrow's Hat to Ms Gordon's Pre-K Class)
The Rotary Club of Brookhaven invited the Rotary Clubs of North Atlanta, South DeKalb, Dunwoody, and Decatur, to join in an initiative to help Pre-K and Kindergarten students at Woodward Elementary be "reading to learn" by 3rd grade. With the support of a Rotary District Grant and partnering with the Ferst Foundation, together we are supporting this goal through book donations and reading monthly to 10 Kindergarten and 3 Pre-K classes at Woodward Elementary. Throughout this year, we'll donate more than 3,000 books to 248 students, read to 13 classes monthly and equip parents with book specific multi-lingual reading guides to use at home.  This early reading project is helping students "learn to read" and learn to love to read, so that by the time they reach third grade they will be "ready to learn" through reading.   
(Above:  North Atlanta Rotarian Mary Frances Richardson with Ms Martin's Pre-K class)
(Above:  Brookhaven Rotarian Bill Smith and GRSP Student Daniela Ochao Garro of Columbia reading to Ms. White's Pre-K class)
Statistics show that 3rd grade is a pivotal time.  Students at a 3rd grade level of reading by third grade are more likely to stay in school and become productive adults.  Students who are not able to read at a third grade level by third grade often fall behind, are more likely to drop out of school and become at risk young individuals and ultimately more dependent on support from society.  The reading program at Woodward Elementary is one of the collaborative programs coming together because of the awareness created by the "Get Georgia Reading" Campaign.
The Get Georgia Reading Campaign is an unprecedented, population-focused collaboration of more than 100 public and private partners.  These partners are working together to ensure that all children in Georgia read to learn throughout school and life.

In 2009, nearly 70 percent of Georgia’s fourth graders were not proficient readers, despite abundant research on the importance of third-grade reading proficiency for school and lifelong success. In 2010, to ensure that all Georgia’s children reach this milestone, Gov. Nathan Deal made literacy his top education priority, and Georgia launched a statewide campaign supporting a range of efforts by public and private entities. From these efforts came the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, a long range comprehensive literacy program bringing together many partners in the community to support young readers in our community.  Learning to read proficiently by the third grade is critical to not only the child and their future, but on a larger scale to our nation’s overall sustainability.  By third grade the child should be capable to transition from Learning to Read, to Reading to Learn.  Without the ability to read to learn, the child gets further and further behind and is at greater and greater risk for life long negative outcomes including disciplinary issues, dropping out of school, teenage pregnancy, and lower overall ability to provide for themselves.  All of these factors have a tremendous impact on the individual and society as a whole.

The Rotary Clubs of Brookhaven, North Atlanta, South DeKalb, Dunwoody, and Decatur are proud to be a positive influence and supporter for the young students at Woodward Elementary.  This is a critical issue for all of us and one that is a life long influence for each student and has long range impact in our community.