Indianapolis School Promotes Community Involvement in Teaching Kids to Read

The children are bursting with excitement. Today marks the celebration of “Green Eggs and Ham” at the Martin Luther King Community Center’s after-school literacy lab.

Evidence of the day’s activities, including the making of green-dyed Rice Krispies Treats, adorns the fingers and faces of the kindergarten and first-grade students. This hands-on lesson, combined with reading the beloved Dr. Seuss story, aims to help students form connections with the content they encounter in books.

“We view it as a life lesson and an educational experience, and Dr. Seuss books epitomize that,” remarked Jonna Lee, a youth worker at the MLK Center, following the early March session. “Today was about embracing new experiences.”

The MLK Center initiated its literacy lab eight years ago to assist a nearby school facing challenges in the community.

Located just a block away from the MLK Center, James Whitcomb Riley School 43 grapples with some of the most pressing needs within the Indianapolis Public Schools district. Recent state data reveals that only around one-third of School 43 students passed Indiana’s third-grade reading assessment last year, and a significant 86% of students qualified for free and reduced-price lunches, a key indicator of school poverty.

Reacting to the tightening of budgets and turnover of staff within IPS, community leaders and alumni took proactive steps to provide support. An education committee was established, volunteers reopened the school library, and the MLK Center introduced an after-school literacy lab in collaboration with IPS to assist students.

With the infusion of new grant funding and an expanding partnership with Butler University, the collaboration is poised for further development. Staff at the MLK Center anticipate broadening their impact on underprivileged children.

“We strive to make learning a fun and imaginative experience for them, offering a fresh perspective on things,” explained Lee about her students. “They realize that they are continually learning, but we ensure they enjoy the process.”

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