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Published: Sunday, 6/15/2014


Real men(tors)

A reading program that paired African-American men with 12 at-risk black boys at Leverette Elementary School has proved overwhelmingly successful. The initiative, called Real Men READ-y, should be expanded at Leverette and to other Toledo public schools during the next school year.

The program elevates educational opportunities for boys who may not have a support system at home. The kindergarten students were read to three times a week by their mentors, who also helped with early literacy skills such as rhyming, alliteration, vocabulary, writing, and letter sounds.

The men also were big brothers and father figures for the little guys. Their relations flourished during the school year. The program’s benefits, in mentoring and in improving the reading skills of children in the program, were obvious, especially compared to the performance and attitudes of 12 other Leverette kindergarten students who were not enrolled.

During the school year, the boys in Real Men READ-y showed a 42 percent improvement in their attitude toward looking at books, compared to 13 percent for the boys who did not take part. The boys with mentors had a 17 percent improvement in their attitude about learning to read, compared to a 4 percent decline among those without mentors.

The boys who participated in the program improved their attitudes about going to school by 12 percent; those who did not showed a 7 percent decline. The boys in the program also met personal goals, including better behavior.

Real Men READ-y was created and subsidized by the African-American Initiative of the United Way of Greater Toledo’s Joint Council, which works to improve health, education, and social services in the local black community. Its impressive and documented achievements should bolster support for similar programs.

The organizers and volunteers of Real Men READ-y deserve congratulations. They gave a group of boys a boost in learning — one more children could use.

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