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Published: Wednesday, 9/29/2010

Literacy program honors Rotarian and his wife

Perrysburg students struggling with their studies can seek assistance through a Learning Day by Day program, named in honor of a local couple and funded in part by local Rotarians.

The program honors the memory of the late Stephen T. Day, past president of the Rotary Club of Perrysburg and 2004-05 district governor of Rotary International, and the work of his wife, Janet Day, a reading specialist at Frank Elementary School in Perrysburg.

Rotary's Learning Day by Day was announced last week to coincide with the birthday of Mr. Day, who would have been 62 years old Sept. 20. He died July 11 after a brief illness.

The name pays tribute to the Days' work with literacy, said Kadee Anstadt, Perrysburg's director of teaching and learning. Mr. and Mrs. Day had been literacy co-chairmen for Rotary District 6600 for several years.

Program funding includes $11,000 from the Rotary Club and $7,000 from the school district.

Rotary "wanted to do something in his name," Superintendent Tom Hosler said.

With its literacy focus, the program is "very fitting," he said. It not only honors the Days, it sends a powerful message about what reading means to Rotarians, he said.

Learning Day by Day has two main components.

The first component, which had been called S.O.S., or Students for Other Students, provides peer-to-peer tutoring at the junior and senior high schools.

About 675 tutoring sessions were held last year in the junior high and an average of six students were tutored daily in the high school. Students showed remarkable increases in grades, homework completion, organizational skills, and study habits, officials said.

Peers are paid $7 an hour; there is no charge for the students who receive assistance. A counselor at the high school oversees the students, making sure students get connected and that time sheets are turned in. Students can meet at the school or other locations. At the junior high, peer tutoring takes place after school under teacher supervision. For instance, a student whose grades are slipping in Spanish I would be paired with a peer who is taking higher level Spanish, or a student who needs help with algebra would link with a student taking calculus, Ms. Anstadt said.

The other component will partner elementary schools with Project MORE, or Mentoring in Ohio for Reading Excellence, a volunteer reading and mentoring program.

Reading skills will be reinforced for special-needs students and other academically at-risk students multiple times a week outside of school hours. Older students, perhaps in junior high or National Honor Society members, could be mentors, Ms. Anstadt said.

A coordinator has been hired, and it isn't known yet how many students would participate in this component, she said. Peer tutors must commit to three days a week; consistency is necessary for success, she said.

The goal is to have the Project MORE component in place by mid-October; the other component was ready last week after the announcement was made.

Ken Robinson, Learning Day by Day committee chairman, said with intense mentoring, "there is demonstrable progress in reading achievement," key to success in junior high and high school.

Rotarians have backed Perrysburg schools for a "very long time," he said. Last year they decided, with input from Mr. Hosler, a Rotarian, to devote resources to a project with the maximum impact on students.

"We are being more strategic with our investment," Mr. Robinson said, and Learning Day by Day will "reach out to every at-risk student in the district."

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