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Union County and UCPS team up to provide students with more literacy resources

Literacy 4 U On Aug. 23, Union County Public Schools (UCPS) elaborated on plans to revamp its literacy framework for students by launching a new community-based reading initiative and announcing a partnership with Union County Public Library (UCPL). The announcement was held at the UCPL’s Monroe branch along with Union County elected officials, community and faith leaders as well as UCPS and UCPL staff members.

Read with U, a reading buddy program that will pair first grade students with community members, aims to help students develop a lifelong love of reading.

The program is simple -- volunteers are asked to read 30 minutes per week with a first grade student. Reading buddies can volunteer face-to-face or virtually through Tutormate, which will be introduced this fall at Title I elementary schools.

UCPS Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan, who has already committed to being a Read with U volunteer, said he’s not only encouraging UCPS staff to be reading buddies but is also calling on all community members to get involved. The initiative, he added, helps place an additional emphasis on the district-wide focus on literacy and equity in resource allocation.

During the event, UCPS and UCPL also announced the collaborative partnership Libraries and Educators as Partners (LEAP).

Beginning as a pilot program this school year, LEAP will provide students in a pilot group with a library card that provides access to all of the library’s digital resources and will maximize student exposure to a vast array of materials, databases and audiobooks.

“LEAP is a major partnership effort to ensure UCPS students are equipped with the literacy skills they need to be successful,” Dr. Houlihan said.

After collecting feedback at the end of this school year, the program’s goal is to move forward with implementing the program in all schools, ultimately providing access for students to borrow print resources from branches as well.

Resources available to students will include:

  • OverDrive for Kids, an eReading room that allows children to borrow and browse books that are age- and reading-level appropriate
  • Learning Express Library, which has more than 10,000 resources to help improve basic skills and prepare students for college admissions tests
  • World Book Online, a suite of online research tools that include encyclopedia articles, primary source collections and more
  • NC LIVE, a core selection of digital content and services
  • Zinio, a database that offers full-color digital magazines with no holds, checkout periods or limits
  • Pronunciator, a language learning tool for 80 different languages and English as a second language for 50 non-English languages

For more information about the LEAP program, please contact your nearest UCPL branch.

To sign up to volunteer with the Read with U program, visit the UCPS homepage to complete a volunteer application. Once your application is approved, contact the volunteer coordinator at your elementary school to get started.

Visit the Read with U webpage for more information.