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Charlotte organization partners with county library branch to boost reading, writing skills for CMS students

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 5:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Charlotte man is partnering with a local library to get CMS students who aren’t performing at grade level back on track.

Cedric Dean with S.A.V.E. created the summer reading enrichment program because he noticed several middle and high schoolers were not reading on grade level.

“We’ve seen a lot of the kids don’t have the pre-requisites skills. They don’t know their parts or speech, nouns, verbs, pronouns,” Dean said.

Mecklenburg County leaders say 70 percent of Black third graders aren’t reading on grade level. It’s an issue Cedric Dean’s noticed with middle and high schoolers too which is why he created a virtual reading enrichment program with the Hickory Grove Library.

It’s a free, five-week program for 6 through 12 graders. The program supports 20 students and they will meet on Zoom every Thursday.

Dean is a certified teacher’s assistant and is working with the library’s teen services specialist Melanie Murdock.

Murdock also has a degree in special education with a concentration in language.

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem so it was very important for us to take the lead and say we’re going to come up with something to teach the kids,” Dean said. “Everybody’s talking about the kids not reading on grade level, but we want to be proactive in actually doing something to get them on grade level.”

Dean and library staff will do assessments to see what challenges students have and craft lessons focused on sentence structure, parts of speech, writing skills, and more.

Rising eighth grader Stacy Holder says she’s reading at grade level but says she wants to catch up on subjects she may have missed while learning virtually.

“I didn’t get to know as much as I did in school when I was learning in school it was a big change,” Holder said.

Library staff members are using Instagram to keep students connected with the enrichment program, college and career resources and finding books they enjoy.

“So we said how can we combine our skills to make a difference in the community and so it was born or that and I’m really pleased the library administration is allowing us to try this pilot project,” Murdock said.

It may be a pilot program now, but Dean is planning to expand into every library in Mecklenburg County and says it’s going to take more than classroom instruction to set students up for success.

“I’m asking all community organizations to step up and be a part of this by taking kids who you work with and teaching them how to read on grade level. It’s going to take a village,” Dean said.

If you are interested in signing your child up, please email mmurdock@cmlibrary.org

The program is every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and ends on Aug. 5.

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