CHAMBER PROGRAM: ABQ Reads Celebrates Another Successful Year of Literacy Tutoring

Mayor Tim Keller shared his excitement for reading with ABQ Reads kindergarteners and first-graders at Whittier Elementary School on Tuesday.

Summer is coming fast for our kids and teachers! Throughout the week, our Albuquerque Reads schools celebrated the end of the school year – and their students’ reading growth – alongside their teachers, tutors and some special guests.

Mayor Tim Keller and several members of his administration, including Dr. Shelle Sanchez, head of the city’s Arts and Culture Department, joined Tuesday’s celebration at Whittier Elementary School. Keller shared with students that he understands reading can be challenging, as he’s dyslexic, but that learning to read has opened so many doors for him – and will for them as well. “You could grow up to be mayor!” he told the wide-eyed group of kindergarteners and first-graders.

The Arts and Culture Department also provided hundreds of copies of its first-ever activity book on the history of Albuquerque, and lead author Kallie Gibson spoke at all three Reads events about her love of reading, and how as a child her mother would read aloud with different voices for a book’s characters to draw her into the story.

At Bel Air Elementary School on Wednesday, Chamber President and CEO Terri Cole recalled the trip that started it all, a site visit to see Ohio Reads in action. Beverly Martinez, of APS’ Title I team, and Bel Air’s Site Coordinator Sally Giannini were there with Terri as ABQ Reads launched in 1984 and at the Bel Air celebration this week.

Also in attendance were tutors – the folks who donate at least 90 minutes a week (some do three times that!) to sit with student(s) and work on reading, writing and literacy skills. Some have been tutoring for a year or two, many for a decade, and several for the full 20 years of the program.

Chamber EVP D’Val Westphal thanked the many generous ABQ Reads sponsors at Whittier Elementary on Tuesday (and at Bel Air and Atrisco elementaries later in the week).

The other special guests that were a huge hit were the mascots from the high schools each elementary feeds into. Herbie the Highland High hornet and the Del Norte Knight and dragon received more high-fives in total from students than any other attendees. (And the chicken nuggets and fruit from Chick-fil-A came in a very close second!)

For 20 years, the Chamber has partnered with Albuquerque Public Schools to boost literacy in elementary classrooms. ABQ Reads pairs local volunteers of all kinds of ages, backgrounds and professions with kindergarten and first-grade students from three Title I APS schools. These volunteers, individually or as a team, dedicate their time for one-on-one tutoring in reading and writing skills that will serve these young readers for the rest of their lives. The program also sends students home with at least 20 books throughout the year, along with school supplies like backpacks and notebooks.

Literacy skills are vital for our kids – studies show students who can’t read on grade-level by the time they reach fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. But ABQ Reads students consistently show impressive improvement from the beginning of the school year to the end, setting them up for long-term success in school and in life.

At the Chamber, we’re grateful to the many community members who make our students’ reading growth possible, including our tutors and APS staff. We’re especially thankful to sponsors for the resources that keep the program running – and put high-quality reading materials into our students’ hands. Here are this year’s generous ABQ Reads sponsors:

  • Daniels Fund
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • United Way of Central New Mexico
  • Verizon – financial support as well as cool swag for the kids, including water bottles and sunglasses
  • Literacy Opportunity Fund
  • Albuquerque Community Foundation/Bradbury Stamm
  • Albertson’s – financial support as well as tote bags, apples, oranges, snack bags, Gatorades and other drinks
  • Bank of Albuquerque
  • Explora – passes for the students
  • Chilis – kid’s meals for the students
  • Intel – 1,000 books for summer reading
  • Nothing Bundt Cake – gift certificates for a Bundtini if they read over the summer
  • Pizza 9 – a pizza for each student
  • Staples – tote bags and coupons
  • Jason’s Deli – kid’s meals for the students
  • DSRM National Bank – Valero
  • New Mexico Children’s Foundation
  • Patt Salisbury
  • Carole Churchill
  • Mary Ann Woodward
  • Ruth E. Salmons
  • Eileen Shedd
  • Alexa K. Tysseling

Want to change a child’s life through reading? Learn more about becoming a volunteer tutor or donating to the program by emailing [email protected].

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