–Sept. 30, 2016


Local men in the community will soon make an impact in the
lives of fourth-graders at Indianapolis Public Schools one book at a time.


In October, IPS will take its Real
Men Read
mentoring program into 27 classrooms in the district. Designed to
engage students with positive male role models, the pilot program also hopes to
inspire students to develop a love for reading.


“Many of our students may not have as much interaction with
a positive male role model and because most of our schools have female
teachers, we wanted to give them that interaction with men in our community,”
said IPS Literacy Coordinator Allyson Peterkin. “We also really want to promote
literacy from all different angles, and this was a different angle to get in
front of our students — showing literacy through example.”


Once a month — from October through May — 27 local male
volunteers from many walks of life and various professions (lawyers to college
students, firefighters, businessmen and several IPS employees) will read aloud
to their assigned classroom for one hour each visit. Roughly 700 students in
our Transformation Zone and Priority elementary schools will have participated
in Real Men Read by the end of May.


Peterkin said men in the community quickly signed up for the
program. With 26 already on board, Peterkin only needs one additional volunteer
before the program begins in late October.


The men will read from a new, assigned book each month. The
seven titles were chosen for various reasons, “but they all have a similar theme
of diversity, persistence and good character. All of the books have won an
award or been recognized for the quality of the book,” said Peterkin. Students will
get to keep all seven books — receiving one new title each month.


Some of the books are quick reads, while others are chapter
books that can be finished on a student’s own time or via assigned classroom reading.
Book provider, Scholastic, has even provided a mentor guide to help volunteers
get students engaged with the books.


“We really want to show kids that being smart is cool and
one of those ways is just really getting these male mentors in there who can
explain how they got to where they are in life,” said Peterkin. “It’s so
important that our kids love to read. I hope it inspires some kids who don’t
love to read to find what kind of books get to them and really find pleasure
and joy in reading.”


The program has many other benefits as well.


“There are multiple outcomes that can come from this …
Read-alouds model good reading skills and fluency, which some of our kids struggle
with. They also model comprehension and focus on vocabulary words. A read-aloud
strengthens reading naturally,” said Peterkin. “Also, kids can’t be productive
citizens in society without strong reading skills. The better we can get our
kids to be strong readers, strong thinkers and strong problem solvers, the
better they are equipped to be productive citizens in our society and really
feel successful.”


Several of the schools participating in the Real Men Read
program include:


  • Clarence Farrington School 61
  • Elder W. Diggs School 42
  • James Russell Lowell School 51
  • James Whitcomb Riley School 43
  • Lew Wallace School 107
  • Louis B. Russell Jr. School 48
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58
  • Washington Irving School 14
  • Wendell Phillips School 63
  • William Penn School 49



Interested in becoming a volunteer for the Real Mean Read
program? Contact IPS Literacy Coordinator Allyson Peterkin at 317.226.3084
(office), 317.374.5334 (cell) or at peterkam@myips.org.
Volunteers must commit to seven, one-hour classroom visits for the year, with a
one-hour training session. An online background check is required before
mentorship can begin.