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Press Release: Students provide 6,000 hours of reading tutoring to New Bedford children

Students provide 6,000 hours of reading tutoring to New Bedford children

University-based service projects recognize the importance of literacy in strengthening the social fabric of our communities

Author:  John Hoey
Date:  April 23, 2007
Department:   Publications
More than 120 UMass Dartmouth students from 70 communities will complete more than 6,000 hours of reading tutoring and related services to New Bedford children during this academic year. The university students deliver the services at Carney Academy, Hayden McFadden Elementary School, and the Boys and Girls Club as part of the America READS Program and other university-based service projects.

"UMass Dartmouth students, staff and and faculty recognize the importance of literacy in strengthening the social fabric of our communities, and are demonstrating a wider commitment to the children of New Bedford," said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack, who is co-chair of the Massachusetts Campus Compact, a coalition of Massachusetts colleges and universities devoted to enhancing education on their campuses through community service. "Here in New Bedford, we see that the direct interaction between university students and New Bedford children is a powerful means of improving literacy and building a community service ethic."

The UMass students will join their New Bedford students for a celebration of the America READS program Monday at 5 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club. Chancellor MacCormack and New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang are scheduled to attend the event. The Boys and Girls Club children are planning to make a presentation to the adults and Chancellor MacCormack will speak to the audience about aspiring to obtain a college education. These presentations will be followed by a pizza party.

Also, Domino's Pizza will announce the expansion of its Reading Rewards Program into the Boys and Girls Club. As part of the program, each child in the program receives an oversized bookmark with spaces for ten book titles. When signed by the teacher or literacy coach, indicating the student has read the ten listed books, the back of the bookmark is a gift certificate for a free small pizza. In addition, when every student in the class, or group, has competed ten books, the whole group gets a pizza party at the Boys and Girls Club.

"We're excited about expanding the Domino's Pizza Reading Rewards program to the New Bedford Boy's and Girls Club, in partnership with the 'America Reads' program, and UMass Dartmouth," said Nelson Hockert-Lotz of Domino's. "Pizza is a great motivator for youth, and reading is a critical activity for our kids. It is hard to imagine a more worthy program than America Reads or better partners than UMass Dartmouth and the Boy's and Girls Club, to inspire literacy with a Reading Rewards fueled by hot, nutritious pizza."

America READS was launched during the Clinton Administration as a national strategy to address school dropout rates as studies have shown that students who are unable to read by the end of the third grade are more likely to drop out of school later.

UMass Dartmouth Community Service Coordinator Deirdre Healey said, "America READS is really cool because the benefits to all the stakeholders are multi-dimensional. UMass Dartmouth students learn more about themselves, their career opportunities and their community; elementary school children benefit from having a role model in their life; and the community benefits from a more engaged citizenry."

Lynn LaBerg, Community and Schools for Success Entrepreneur at Hayden MacFadden Elementary School, said, "Our UMass Dartmouth tutors are a very valuable resource to help schools reach their literacy goals."

Bernadette Souza, the assistant director of the Boys and Girls Club of New Bedford, said, "Our kids just love the UMass Dartmouth students from America READS. They are such a positive influence."

The New Bedford reading initiative is one of numerous UMass Dartmouth efforts to engage students, faculty and staff in the life of the community. For instance, faculty have worked worked closely with teachers and principals in the Fall River schools to improve math teaching, and nursing students have been assisting the Dartmouth Council on Aging.

The University is also deeply embedded in the social and economic development of the region through its School of Marine Science and Technology in New Bedford, Advanced Technology Manufacturing Center in Fall River, Star Store arts campus in New Bedford, and continuing education centers in both cities.





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