Making a commitment to kids

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 5, 2001

Features Editor

Reading is fun, but it’s very difficult to make believers out of some youngsters.

Video games, television, movies and the stereo are tough competition for the written word. And, too often, the hardbacks get knocked back.

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So, the Community Bankers Association of Alabama decided it was time for them to get involved and do what they could to show kids that reading is important and can lead to a lifetime of learning and enjoyment.

The association developed a program, titled "Reading to Earn" which targets third graders in Alabama schools. The program is sponsored by community banks to help encourage elementary students to read.

John Ramage, vice president of First National Bank of Brundidge, is a member of the bankers association’s and said research shows that if a child does not develop a propensity for reading by the time he or she is in third grade, it will be very difficult for them to develop a love of the written word.

Ramage said he knows how important the written word has been to him, as an educational tool and for continual learning and lifelong entertainment.

Therefore, he was interested in the "Reading to Earn" program and wanted to be involved so he could give something to the community where he lives and works.

The program is designed to span the school year from October to May and Ramage has committed an hour of day, Monday through Thursday, to the program.

"Yes, it’s a long term commitment," he said, "but this is something I want to do because it’s something that is worthwhile and can have a positive impact on many children -now and for the rest of their lives."

From 12:30 until 1:30 p.m. on the designated days, Ramage visits third grade classrooms at Pike County Elementary School and reads to them from books which will supplement the school’s accelerated reading program.

"The students seem to enjoy the reading time," Ramage said. "Wendy Watson, reading coordinator at PCES, said she has been well pleased with the program and that the students enjoy the extra attention they get. As for me, I enjoy being around the kids and getting to know them. You can see their eyes light up during the readings and it’s a good experience for me, too."

The books Ramage reads to the students are selected by the third grade teachers. After a book is read, the students are tested on the material in the book.

"They earn points for each book read and, on honors day, we will present a certificate of completion to each student who successfully completes the reading program," Ramage said. "And, each of them will be given a hardback book of their choice. It’s a good program and I’m proud to be involved."

Ramage said he is also proud of other educational programs offered by Community Bankers.

"Each year we sponsor Legislative Day," he said. "On that day we take high school seniors to Montgomery and they get to tour the capitol, sit in the chairs of our legislators, meet government officials and other students from all over the state. It, too, is a great learning experience."

Ramage said the educational programs sponsored by Community Bankers reach from the elementary schools through the high schools and provide opportunities for the students that will, hopefully, inspire them to be better students and better citizens so they can make their communities better places to live and to work.