LITTLE ROCK — The love of reading is contagious, and learning opportunities abound when schools and communities partner together to focus on building a culture of reading for their students, families, and community. Because of their outstanding school/community collaboration, the Arkansas Department of Education recently recognized seven cities as R.I.S.E Communities for 2022-2023. One city, Magnolia, is a two-time gold recipient.
“Improving literacy is a primary focus of Gov. Sanders’ Arkansas LEARNS Act,” ADE Secretary Jacob Oliva said. “In order to be successful, schools and communities must work together to ensure all students are reading on grade level. These seven communities have demonstrated their commitment to literacy, and I am proud to recognize them as role models of education, leadership, and community development.”
ADE’s Reading Initiative for Student Excellence, or R.I.S.E. Arkansas program, encourages reading beyond just the classroom and sets a goal to create communities and schools that promote a culture of reading for residents of all ages. Cedar Ridge, Hamburg, Magnolia, and Warren were named gold recipients; El Dorado and Harrisburg received the silver recognition; and Weiner was named a bronze winner.
To be eligible for the recognition, schools and communities submitted a letter of commitment, developed an action plan, and provided a portfolio that showed evidence of implementation throughout the year. During this time, the department provided guidance, resources, and support for engaging the community in planned reading activities. Applications were then scored using a rubric.
There was one factor that each recognized community had in common: dedication to promoting the love of reading. In Cedar Ridge, more than 650 free books were given to students, families were encouraged to engage in reading and writing activities with students, and more than a dozen businesses provided opportunities to increase literacy in the community.
Hamburg rewarded student achievement with books for at-home libraries, high school EAST students increased the love of reading through an Easter egg event where students received free books, and community book libraries provided easy access to reading materials for community members.
A two-time winner, Magnolia provided community members the opportunity to purchase books for all students who attended the book fair, community partners provided financial literacy opportunities for students, and the community enhanced its current free book libraries.
Community support in Warren provided more than 3,000 books to students and families, a book bus was created to provide books to students and the community, virtual and in-person reading opportunities were provided by members of the community, and new parents received resources about the importance of reading to children.
To learn more about how to become a R.I.S.E. Community, visit https://bit.ly/3SKf6YH.