Read with a child from birth to the first day of kindergarten to create more than 130 hours of vocabulary development.

Read 30-minutes per day and a child digests 900 hours of “brain food.” That equals a one-month head start compared to students who receive only weekly 30-minute reading session.

But that doesn’t mean some students have to be left behind.

The truth of the matter is that until 3rd grade, almost all students are learning to read. The focus of reading from 3rd grade and beyond is for students to read to learn. If we really want to ensure students aren’t left behind, we have to make sure they are prepared to read.

That’s why we started “Partners Read.”

“Partners Read” is a collaboration among businesses, professional organizations, WakeEd and the Wake County Public School System that places “partners” in the role of mentors in WCPSS schools near their places of business. Mentors are paired with first and second grade students. Each week mentors read to students or listen to them read.  The student then gets to take the book home to practice on their own every night. They confidently read their book when they meet again with mentor. The goal is for students to develop confidence and enjoyment in reading, helping them stay on track as they learn to read. Thirty minutes for 10 weeks to build a relationship that has a lifetime of value.

WakeEd piloted the program last school year in partnership with the Wake County Bar Association. Each Friday, attorneys worked on reading skills with students in five WCPSS elementary schools. Over two semesters, educators saw their students’ confidence improve, not only in reading, but also in other subjects. Attorneys also experienced the joy of helping students read.

“I have enjoyed working in the program,” one mentor said. “My two students have been a pleasure to work with, and I look forward to the time I spend with them each week.”

“Partners Read” is now open to businesses and associations throughout Wake County. We are already working with Nationwide Insurance to place some of its associates in schools. You can be part of the Partners Read program too by contacting Programs Director Teresa Pierrie, tpierrie@wakeed.org.

Watch the video below to see how this program is working for WCPSS.