AMH board chairman Steve Thompson has developed a passion for improving the reading skills of young children after learning that a child’s third grade reading status is an early predictor of life-long learning potential and life expectancy.
In 2013, BJC CEO Steve Lipstein was honored with the St. Louis Post Dispatch Citizen of the Year award. While accepting the award, he stated that a child's third grade reading status is an early predictor of life-long earning potential and life expectancy.
“That really stuck with me,” said AMH board chairman Steve Thompson. “I thought about what a short window that was, and how fortunate I was to have parents who read to me.”
Only 20 percent of second and third graders reading below grade level will go on to college. Steve Thompson began asking the question, “What can we do to improve this?” He met with Alton School District literacy coaches Elaine Kane and Rene Hart to share his vision of people reading to people. His enthusiasm was contagious and soon they developed a plan.
“We tried to think out of the box,” Steve explained. “Children arrive at school at 7:30 a.m. and wait for school to begin at 8 a.m. What if they used that time to read? We piloted a program at East Elementary School, with children reading books of their choice to adults. Our goal was to get 20 volunteers from area businesses, churches and senior groups.”
Steve started drumming up support, creating a network of people who care. The ROAR (Reach Out and Read) program was an instant success.
For more information on how you can help, email Elaine Kane or call 618.433.7835.