Why Children's Literacy?
Education and literacy has been a topic which the Holyoke Rotary Club has focused much of its efforts on in years past, including raising $25,000 for the children's media room in the newly renovated Holyoke Public Library and a Holyoke summer reading program to name a few. In 2014, the Holyoke Rotary Club made a five year commitment to the Kelly School in which we are working with the administration to outfit the educators of Kindergarten through third grade with the technology and updated scholastic print needed to teach in today's technology driven environment.
About the Commitment
Why a five year commitment?
The Rotary Club made a five year commitment to track the impact of the technology and updated scholastic materials. We will begin with this years Kindergarten classes and follow the class through their next five years in elementary school, through third grade.
Why third grade?
Two reasons. First, research shows that third grade marks a pivotal point in a students education. Students learn how to read through the third grade, and thereafter utilize their reading skills to learn other subjects. If a student is unable to ready by third grade, how will they learn the material that follows? Secondly, in third grade the students take the MCAS exams. Of the 26 Gateway Cities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Holyoke ranked first out of those 26 cities with 87% of third grade students reading below proficiency, based on 2013 MCAS results. By utilizing the results on the 2013 MCAS exam, it provides us with a baseline to gauge improvements over the next five years. The 2014 MCAS results showed 15% of students reading at a proficient rate, compared to 2013 at 13%.
Why the Kelly School?
The Kelly School was chosen as it is a public elementary school located in a most disadvantaged area of Holyoke (see map). In addition, the Kelly School has a pro-active faculty and staff who work to break barriers between them, students and parents. A few examples of these projects include their walking school bus program and their efforts to break language barriers between parents and teachers by providing free classrooms for parents to learn English. Should the program we are raising funds for be succesful after five years with improved proficiency levels, the Rotary Club will look to replicate the program in other area school districts.
Why a Tasting Fundraiser?
2015 marked the Holyoke Rotary's tenth year holding a tasing fundraiser and silent auction. In 2014, the committee decided to revamp our annual wine tasting, expanding upon our tasting stations and move it back into Holyoke. The Club is once again partnering with Gateway City Arts to with hopes of showcasing the best of Greater Holyoke, downtown. The Holyoke we all know and love has a negative reputation so with this event, we are striving to be a catalyst for change in the negative perception of the area, while raising funds for a much needed cause.