In October of 2015, our firm founder Paula Peters started volunteering with a group called STAIR Annapolis. STAIR stands for Start the Adventure in Reading, and it is an outreach program aimed at improving the literacy skills of children here in Annapolis, to give them a better chance at a brighter future. STAIR’s mission is:
- To increase the reading level of skill-deficient students.
- To increase each student’s sense of self-worth and esteem by providing a success-oriented program which expands the student’s knowledge of self and the world of reading.
- To provide a caring environment which will promote a more meaningful dialogue among multi-ethnic volunteers, children, teachers, and parents.
Paula is so excited to be a part of this program, and volunteers weekly at Parole-Walter Mills Elementary School. Part of her work involves administering some diagnostics to determine her tutee’s skill level, but she told us she had a blast, with both she and her child taking turns reading books aloud to each other. They will play word games together too, which will help the children in the program learn how language functions – and makes learning fun too!
The illiteracy problem in this country is staggering
According to Pro Literacy, in 2014 there were about 36 million adults in the U.S. who read at a 3rd grade level. The Statistic Brain puts that number around 14% of all U.S. adults. These numbers make sense, in a perverse kind of way, as most educational institutions (and the laws which govern them at local and federal levels) assume that a child can read by the 3rd grade. If you or your child is what some call a low-level reader, the chances are high that you did not receive the extra help you needed for the later grades, which would cause the literacy rate to stall.
But the problems do not stop there. In 1989, pro football player Dexter Manley testified before Congress that he was functionally illiterate, reading at only a 2nd grade level at best. In 2014, CNN looked into “the reading levels of 183 UNC-Chapel Hill athletes who played football or basketball from 2004 to 2012… [and] found that 60% read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Between 8% and 10% read below a third-grade level.”
Why STAIR is such an important program
By working with 2nd graders, STAIR hopes to put children in a better position early on, and to encourage in them a love of reading that will carry throughout their adult lives. For some kids here in Annapolis, the STAIR program may be their only real chance at improving their abilities before being figuratively left behind by their peers.
All of us at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, PA are really proud of Paula’s work with children in the STAIR program, and we encourage everyone to rally to the cause. By becoming mentors to young children at a time when they need us most, we may be able to change the future, and knock out illiteracy once and for all. To find out more about volunteering, we encourage you to contact STAIR Annapolis, or to reach out to our office.