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Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 12:00 AM

Project Literacy volunteers prepare to help kids master reading

Employees from Marshall Medical Centers and other businesses in Marshall County spent Tuesday training for a volunteer program aimed at improving the literacy rate in local schools.

Paige Raney, supervisor of federal programs for the county school system, shared some depressing statistics with trainees that depict a dreary picture of many students in Marshall County.

·      70 percent of people processed by the District Attorney’s office are high school dropouts

·      75 percent of crimes are committed by drop-outs

·      One in 10 drop-outs end up in prison.

·      Each drop-out ultimately costs taxpayers $292,000

“We want to stop that,” she says. “We want to make the community better.”

The best way to do that, she says, is to improve reading skills in students, especially when they are in lower grades. That’s why Project Literacy was created.

Last spring, a pilot program kicked off at Asbury Elementary. Twenty-three volunteers from the Progress Rail Corporation paired up with 46 students for 30 minutes each per week. The results were positive, Raney says. Some students gained a year’s worth of work during that five months the pilot program lasted.

This year, the program has expanded to include volunteers from other business partners and will reach into 15 schools identified as having the greatest need. Marshall Medical Centers has 15 employees volunteering in the program. They will start reading with students after Labor Day.

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