Wilson Orthodontics Partners with Read, Learn, Succeed Program

Wilson Orthodontics has partnered with United Way of Hall County’s Read, Learn, Succeed program to provide reading mentors to students throughout Gainesville and Hall County.
“Reading mentors are one aspect of the larger community-wide early learning initiative spearheaded by United Way,” said Ruth Demby, Read, Learn, Succeed Coordinator. “Mentors are essential to reaching a population of students who enter pre-K and kindergarten without the reading skills that prepare them to learn. We are pleased to be collaborating with the Center Point Mentoring Program to place these trained reading mentors in the schools and after-school programs in Gainesville and Hall County.”
According to Demby, third grade reading scores are predictors of future success. If students are not able to read on grade level by third grade, they are more likely to struggle in school ultimately resulting in increased drop-out rates. A study conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that those who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers not to graduate from high school.
“When we learned that more than one-third of third grade students in Hall County read below grade level, we knew we had to get involved with helping to move the needle,” said Ron Wilson, owner and partner at Wilson Orthodontics. “I believe strongly in the importance of being a positive influence on the next generation, and this initiative provides an opportunity for us to give back on a company-wide level.”
Wilson Orthodontics has enlisted 12 staff members to be reading mentors in nine local elementary schools. After completing mentor training, each reading mentor is assigned a pre-K or kindergarten student to visit weekly. During each visit the mentors work on reading skills and emphasize the importance of learning to read. The goal of the reading mentors program is to close the achievement gap before students reach the critical third-grade year.
“Before third grade, children are learning to read. From third grade on children are reading to learn,” said Demby. “Just 30 minutes a week helps to improve a child’s reading-level, self-esteem and interest in school and is a significant step in increasing reading proficiency and the life trajectories of our local children. A trained, caring reading mentor can provide the individual influence and encouragement that is so needed for the students who are lagging behind.”
Wilson Orthodontics is the first reading mentor corporate partner, and Dr. Wilson hopes the company’s participation will bring awareness to this community issue and inspire other local businesses to partner with United Way as reading mentors.
“We are thrilled Wilson Orthodontics has stepped up as a community leader in the campaign to make reading proficiency a priority,” said Demby. “Their commitment to improving our community and to being an example for how other local businesses can get involved will help reach more children and improve their chances for future academic success and ultimately economic self-sufficiency.”
For more information on the Read, Learn, Succeed program or how you can be a reading mentor, contact Ruth Demby at rdemby@unitedwayhallcounty.org.

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