Earlier this week a team of Knowledge Universe employees gathered at Rosa Parks Elementary School in North Portland for a special meeting: reading with the second grade students in Ms. Kelly’s class. They were joined by representatives from the Portland Trail Blazers and Start Making a Reader Today (SMART) to celebrate the start of the second year of the Read BIG literacy program.
“We’re excited to start a second year of Read BIG with the Trail Blazers, and to continue our partnership with the team and with Robin, who is such an enthusiastic reading advocate,” said David Roy, senior director of KU Communications and Community Partnerships. “I know the Blazers have an appreciation for our expertise in literacy and education, and we definitely benefit from their visibility and credibility in the community.”
“The excitement of a second grader choosing a book and wanting to read to you is an incredible feeling,” said Lindsey Klinger, from the KU HR team. “I read with a second grader named Cameron. He made a goal to read 62 pages during our time together. He read 68 pages to me and was so excited to start his Read BIG log.”
One year ago, KU teamed up with the Portland Trail Blazers, and center Robin Lopez, to launch the Read BIG literacy campaign in the Portland metro area. During the first year of the program, nearly 4,000 kindergarten through third grade students from 120 local elementary schools participated, logging hundreds of hours of reading to themselves and to others.
KU employees in the Portland area can continue to share this love of reading with local students through volunteering to read with children through the SMART program. Lindsey is a SMART volunteer and says even a little bit of time can be impactful.
“You can impact a child with 45 minutes [the average SMART session] of reading time, and that time will also have an impact on you.”
Tiffany Dawson, in KU’s Risk department, is also a SMART volunteer who says that being a SMART reader allows her “…to fulfill my joy of reading to children and making a difference in their lives. KU, SMART, and the Blazers make a great team.”