Kingsport schools hope to launch Read to be Ready this summer

Rick Wagner • Apr 26, 2016 at 9:46 AM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport City Schools officials hope to launch a Read to be Ready program this summer with a grant of a little less than $30,000 from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

The program, at least in its first year, will be limited to 25 students selected from Kennedy, Jackson and Roosevelt Elementary schools rising third graders. It is to be held at Kennedy 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 1 through July 1. 

“This is to prevent summer reading or learning loss,” KCS federal program supervisor Lamar Smith told the Board of Education at a work session Thurdsay, April 21.

He and Emily Helphinstine, KCS literacy coordinator, said they will learn May 2 if the grant is to be received this year, but they said they are hopeful and believe the system put in a strong application.

Program director is to be Kennedy Associate Principal Lori Smith and would have a 1-to-5 teacher to student ratio. The program would bring high quality reading material, exemplary text and extended learning to the students. Breakfast and lunch will be provided free of charge by the system’s summer feeding program.

On Family Fridays during the program, families would be invited to the school to learn how to work with students and let students show off their projects from that week. The program would use Leveled Literacy Intervention kits that include paper books.  

Each student would receive 10 take-home books and use of a Kindle Fire for kids, known as a Kindle Fire Kids Edition e-reader. Students who have at last a 90 percent attendance rate would get to keep the Kindles. The Kindles can have access to thousands of books, as well as educational games, applications and videos. The Kindles for a year will have access to about 10,000 things and will come with a protective case as well as the myOn and EPIC! applications.

Smith and Helphinstine said the children will be transported to the half-day program and then either back home or to one of the summer programs in the city: the Boys and Girls Club and Kingsport Parks and Recreation.

If the grant is received, the 25 in the Read to be Ready will be part of the United We Read summer kickoff.

Other partners will include Healthy Kingsport, which will be involved with a food education trip and project-based learning, the Kingsport Public Library, where students will get a library card and learn how to access books on the Kindle, a trip to the Farmers Market, a free Carousel ride and a Bays Mountain trip including a barge ride and ropes course.

BOE President Carrie Upshaw asked why the program was limited to 25 students. Smith and Helphinstine said they’ve been asked that a lot and the answer is the grant is limited to $30,000. However, Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said the program could become a pilot for a systemwide program.

“It might be something we want to consider putting systemwide in the future,” Ailshie said.