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Read 2 Learn Program Links School With Community Care Facility

Read 2 Learn Program Links School With Community Care Facility

WFISD’s first-ever partnership with senior citizen facility began Nov. 4, 2016




texoma care

Booker T. Washington second-grader Ka'Lecia Peterson, 7, reads her book to Texoma Christian Care Center volunteer Jo Nell Jennings, 87.





“Hi. What’s your name?” asked Jo Nell Jennings, an 87-year-old resident at Texoma Christian Care Center in Wichita Falls, Texas.


Ms. Jennings sat in her wheelchair across from a television screen in the care center’s Main Street hallway on Nov. 4, 2016. This specific television hid a secret: It is wired to a special technology called a Chrome Box, which facilitates two-way conversation.


About five miles away, at Booker T. Washington Elementary School, a 7-year-old second-grader named Ka’Lecia Peterson smiled back at her from another television monitor in her school’s Ben Carson Reading Room.





Assistant Technology Director Frank Murray watches as Texoma Christian Care resident Jo Nell Jennings interacts with a Booker T. Washington second-grader via technology.




Ka’Lecia sat in a furry black chair facing the wall-hung television monitor with her legs extended and her boots not touching the floor. In her lap, she held a favorite book: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle.


Her television monitor was also wired to a Chrome Box, enabling the Skype-like, two-way conversation with her Read 2 Learn volunteer.


With an 80-year age gap and about five miles between them, Ka’Lecia began reading her book about a caterpillar who liked to eat apples.


Ms. Jennings listened quietly. As Ka’Lecia turned the page to read more, Ms. Jenings asked, “Do you like to eat apples?”


“They’re good,” said Ka’Lecia.


“Do you have a grandmother?” asked Ms. Jennings. “Do you read to her?”


Ka’Lecia said she did have a grandmother. “We both read together,” she said.


This two-way conversation – from 7-year-old to 87-year-old – continued as Ka’Lecia read through her book. When she was done, she clutched her book and grinned.


She turned to a visitor and said, “I’m so lucky. I get to read with her every Friday!”


This was a new twist on the Read 2 Learn remedial reading program. For the first time, WFISD used technology to officially partner with a senior care center. The team effort created one more volunteer to help build children’s reading skills in the Wichita Falls ISD by listening to a child read; it also gave one more child some much-needed special attention.


In a typical Read 2 Learn session, a volunteer visits a school, signs in, and sits with a student for 30 minutes to work through an assigned reading program. The child reads, then the volunteer reads.


This new, technology-driven conversation will eventually expand to include reading for both student and volunteer.


The idea to create such a partnership originated with assistant technology director Frank Murray. He saw a similar video set-up in another city that was used to help students who were learning to speak English.


They used technology to hook up with a senior care center, where volunteers viewed the children over the television monitor and conversed with them to help them practice their English.


He wondered if the same set-up might work for WFISD’s Read 2 Learn program. He ordered two Chrome Boxes to test it out.



Frank and JoNell

“You want to learn about Twitter?” said Frank Murray after posting a photo of Jo Nell Jennings on the popular social media site.



After the reading session, he even spent a few minutes with Ms. Jennings, answering her questions about how to use the social media platform, Twitter.


The partnership was a success, he said. “It’s as good for the residents as it is for the students.”


He expects more senior center residents will want to volunteer and can be matched soon with second-grade readers.


Currently, Booker T. Washington has 40 second-grade students who need reading practice to read on grade level by the time they reach third-grade.



Ka'Lecia Peterson will read to her Texoma Christian Care mentor, Jo Nell Jennings, every Friday.