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Ligonier Valley implements community 'read aloud' program

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Ligonier Valley School District is currently accepting volunteers to contribute to its community read aloud program.

The year-round program, which takes place at R.K. Mellon and Laurel Valley elementary schools, allows members of the community to read to students and facilitate educational activities, literacy coach Amy Brown said. The purpose of the program is to help students foster a love of reading while improving literacy skills and reinforcing the importance of reading, Brown said.

To participate, volunteers are required to have an orientation meeting with Brown and obtain legal clearances. The cost of the clearances is reimbursed by the school after five hours of volunteering, Brown said.

After a volunteer completes the requirements, Brown assigns them to a teacher, with whom they set up a schedule to assist in the classroom for at least one hour a week, Brown said. In the past, volunteers brought in books of their choice to read, worked with students during their reading workshop, helped students individually with reading and coordinated hands-on activities to connect with the day's reading, she said.

“This is a win, win, win,” said Brown. “The kids love it. The teachers love it. The volunteers love it.”

Another program still open for participation is “Raising Readers,” a parent book club that encourages reading in the home, specifically for families with children of infant age through first grade.

“We have six different themes that we talk about and a book related to each one,” Brown said.

The club takes place on Tuesdays in October through Nov. 19 for approximately an hour.

At Laurel Valley Elementary, the club meets from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m.

At R.K. Mellon, the club meets from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m.

Though the program has already begun, Brown said parents are still more than welcome to participate. Parents with children who are not of school age, or not in class during the time of the session they attend, are welcome to bring their children.

Each session will focus on a different theme and book. Some of the themes include reading and writing connection, diversity and technology. The sessions also include ice breaker activities, activities related to the reading and “homework” assignments for parents, Brown said.

Parents may keep the books that are provided through the club.

Each school has a trained parent facilitator to assist in directing the sessions. Kim Dickert-Wallace facilitates the sessions at R.K. Mellon Elementary School, and Laura Huston facilitates the sessions at Laurel Valley Elementary School. Both have been involved in the program in the past.

“I think that it's a good way to communicate to families that we're all trying to learn how to help our kids succeed in school,” said Dickert-Wallace. “It's also a nice way to show things that we're learning with our kids and little tricks on how to foster their love for reading.”

Huston appreciates the discussion that occurs during the sessions.

“Parents are able to talk over problems and share what they've gone through,” Huston said. “We try to give them information they can take away from the group and apply to their kids.”

The club is sponsored through United Way.

For more information about the community read aloud program or Raising Readers, email Amy Brown at or call 724-238-5696.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or