Get Georgia Reading

Local schools in Cedartown will be getting a visit from members of the Kiwanis club and other organizations in the annual Read Across Georgia Day coming up next week.

On Jan. 21, classrooms will get to enjoy reading time with local club members in an effort to promote and increase literacy across the state and locally at Cedartown-area elementary schools, as well as Pre-K and Head Start programs as well.

The goal is to ensure that area students are reading on or above their age level by the time they hit third grade that ultimately affects the area graduation rates.

Efforts locally are being organized through a combined group of the Kiwanis Club, Polk Family Connection and Ferst Readers in the Get Georgia Reading campaign.

Two-thirds of Georgia’s third-graders are not reading on grade level, bringing long-term negative consequences to these children, their families, our communities, and our state. Unwilling to yield any longer to the unspeakable rate of illiteracy in Georgia, hundreds of public and private leaders from across the state and across sectors came together to take on third-grade reading as an urgent priority for all who care about children’s health and well-being.

“Together, under the guidance of Get Georgia Reading, we developed a four-pillar framework outlining the conditions necessary for every child in Georgia to become a proficient reader by the end of third grade, paving the way to improved outcomes throughout school and life,” according to Rhonda Heuer, Executive Director of Polk Family Connection, secretary of Cedartown Kiwanis and a member of the Get Georgia Reading Campaign Cabinet.

Unwilling to accept the status quo, Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal came together with Georgia leaders in 2013 to begin to address third-grade reading proficiency—not only as an education issue, but as an urgent priority for all who care about children’s health and well-being. More than 100 state and local leaders joined together to develop a clearly defined framework to create the conditions for every child in Georgia to become a proficient reader by the end of third grade.

This framework consists of four research-based pillars that work together to provide a platform for success: Language Nutrition, Access, Positive Learning Climate, and Teacher Preparation and Effectiveness. These four pillars provide a new way of looking at early literacy and learning during the first eight years of life, opening the doors to conversations that identify gaps and where to locate resources to fill those gaps.

Polk County joined the effort in 2014 and leads the work through the leadership of Get Polk Reading, a sub committee of Polk Family Connection. Local members of this subcommittee include Ferst Readers, who sends a free book to children under 5 monthly, Georgia DECAL, Tallatoona Headstart, public health, and local child care centers and preschool programs.

“We are excited to join with Georgia Kiwanis and the Cedartown Kiwanis club for their first Read Across Georgia Day the week of January 21,” expressed Patty Rogers a Cedartown Kiwanis member, chair of Get Polk Reading and Polk Ferst Readers Community Liaison.

With a network of over 600,000 Kiwanis International members in Kiwanis and the organization’s Service Leadership programs, the goal is through programs like Get Georgia Reading and partnerships with various organizations that real change can be affected and lasting differences made in the lives of children.

“We believe that Kids Need Kiwanis, so we serve children in any way we can, from food insecurities, to improving literacy, to building partnerships with other organizations. We are creative with our ideas. We are passionate about making a difference. And we have fun along the way.” States Dr Rick Townsend with Georgia Kiwanis.

To celebrate this partnership and the critical need for local children to be reading at grade level by the end of third grade, our Cedartown Kiwanis members will be reading in Cedartown area preschools and child care centers.

“We are excited to be a part of this promotion as we celebrate our club’s 100th year in Cedartown and we look forward to continuing the work of improving literacy in Polk County.” Stated Cedartown Kiwanis Club President, George Mundy.

For more information about early literacy efforts in Polk County or if you are interested in learning more about getting involved with Cedartown Kiwanis, contact Rhonda Heuer at rhonda@polkcouncil.com or call 770-748-1016. It’s easy to register for Ferst Readers, simply go online to www.ferstreaders.org.

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