This year, Providence is so lucky to have the opportunity to partner up with Fairfax High School in an initiative called Readers Are Leaders™. This neat program was brought to us by Mr. Wendell Byrd, founder of Readers Are Leaders™. Mr. Byrd is a retired Fairfax County elementary school teacher who taught 2nd grade for 31 years, and he was also the head Boys Basketball Coach at South Lakes High School for 23 years! His goal with this program is to “promote better literacy and stronger citizens in our communities.”
The Readers Are Leaders™ program pairs Fairfax High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team members with children from our school. The basketball players visit Providence once or twice a week and as they read with selected students, they also mentor the younger children. The athletes listen as children read to them, and then they take a turn reading to our students. The athletes are sure to relay the message that “reading is cool” and that everyone on their basketball team loves to read!
Our students prepared for this by writing to their high school reading partner and sharing some of their interests both in and out of school. During the time our students spend with the athletes, they talk about what they like about the book they are reading, and they make guesses as to how the story is going to end. The program even provides our readers with three free books that their mentors help them select at a reading level that is perfect for them.
During a recent conversation with Mr. Byrd, he shared with me that he hopes this program “creates opportunities for our young people to grow stronger academically, individually, and socially. The heart of the program is built upon a commitment to service”. We thank the Fairfax High School Basketball Team and Mr. Byrd for helping us become better readers and for helping strengthen our ties with Fairfax High!