Students Read to Succeed in Searcy County, Arkansas

A partnership between community library and schools helped foster a love of reading for rural students

August 29, 2017 |

Students show off their new books from the Read to Succeed program at Searcy County Public Library.

Working together for a shared purpose is an essential element of place. The Rural Schools Collaborative is committed to strengthening place and fostering partnerships between school and community. The "Read to Succeed" program, created and implemented by Searcy County Library in rural northern Arkansas and funded by the Rural Schools Collaborative Grants in Place program, helped students stay engaged with learning and literacy during summer break. Arkansas' Rural Community Alliance provided matching funds to support this effort.

"Working in collaboration with our local schools, we were able to identify students who would benefit from a summer literacy tutoring program," reported library director Pat Halsted. The Read to Succeed program took place Mondays and Tuesdays, and students enjoyed nutritious snacks and meals, and one-on-one literacy tutoring. The program also helped students build their own personal and family libraries: 53 books were given to the 18 participants.

Halsted reported that the program was a huge success. "Not only were the students able to practice their reading skills, they were also engaged in fluency, retention, and decoding of reading materials." Especially noteworthy was the story of Kian - an incoming first grader who participated in the program. Early in the summer, tutors discovered that Kian didn't know his alphabet and was struggling to read as a result. Because of this, and because of the one-on-one nature of the program, tutors were able to adjust their approach to working with Kian. "Kian became our greatest success story," said Halsted. "By the end of the grant, Kian knew his alphabet, and he is working on reading sounds and numbers."

This engaging program made a big difference in the lives of these 18 rural students. Thanks to the work of the Searcy County Public Library, these kids are headed back to school with new skills and a new love of learning.

We invite you to learn more about the Power of Partnerships!

This program was funded by the Rural Schools Collaborative Grants in Place program, which supports rural teachers and educators working to make a difference in the lives of their students through innovative, place-based education.

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