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November 7, 2016

DC leaders of Empowering Males of Color convene at Aiton Elementary

On October 20, Karen Gardner, executive director of Reading Partners DC, convened thought leaders from DC Public Schools (DCPS) to discuss the impact of tutoring and the importance of the DCPS Empowering Males of Color (EMOC) initiative. The event was held at Aiton Elementary School in Washington, DC, which recently leveraged support from DCPS and the DC Public Education Fund to add Reading Partners DC as a literacy intervention partner. Participants in the event included leaders from EMOC, Reading Partners, and Aiton Elementary. The event captured the next chapter for EMOC and highlighted the importance of this partnership in order for Reading Partners to effectively galvanize the community to support students across the city.

Principal Malaika Golden of Aiton Elementary opened the conversation with her thoughts about the Reading Partners program and its impact on students at Aiton. Principal Golden highlighted the components of the program and how they provide the opportunity to meet students’ individual needs by saying, “We [school leaders] can’t always do one-on-one instruction with every child, so having a resource [like Reading Partners] can provide that.” Quay Dorsey, a third grade teacher at Aiton, spoke about his motivation to write the grant proposal to bring Reading Partners to Aiton through EMOC.  

Dorsey believes that individualized tutoring makes building connections with students easier, while also providing a space for mentorship. “Having Kevin [Reading Partners’ site coordinator] and the other tutors here really supports the vision of increasing academic achievement and also gives the boys an outlet to talk to someone else besides their teacher.”
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Eugene Pinkard, deputy chief of school turnaround and performance, was also in attendance. Deputy Pinkard oversees EMOC for the entire district, and spoke about the vision and future he sees for EMOC, “We want to make sure that the young men, based on research, have academic supports so that they can accelerate; that they have a connection; and that they have the opportunity to explore their place in the world.” Deputy Pinkard went on to acknowledge that Reading Partners’ structure is research-based and has a level of expertise that provides the type of support that students need.

A current EMOC tutor, Charles Garland, shared how he has made a personal connection with his students at Reading Partners. When asked about the growth in his students’ literacy skills, Charles said,“It’s definitely apparent…I love the growth, the growth feels good for them, and for myself, because I know that my work is doing something.”

This event was inspired after Reading Partners was recognized at the My Brother’s Keeper Showcase at the White House on October 17. The showcase acknowledged over 30 programs that have been proven to be effective in closing the opportunity gaps that boys and young men of color face today. Reading Partners was chosen because of independent gold-standard research demonstrating the program’s impact and success in helping children read on grade level by the third grade.

My Brother’s Keeper and EMOC both recognize the importance of providing opportunities for achievement for  students of color, and Reading Partners is honored to be a part of that mission. When referring to these goals, Deputy Pinkard said it best, “What you’ll see throughout this is the notion of meeting students where they are, giving them the sense of where they can go, and equipping them with the tools to do just that.”

More than four out of five of DC’s fourth graders from low-income homes are currently not reading at grade level. Students who are on grade level by the fourth grade are four times more likely to graduate from high school on time. Reading Partners still needs tutors for this school year. If you are interested in making a difference in a child’s life, please sign up at https://readingpartners.org/location/washington-dc/.

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