R.E.A.L. Men Read

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Bobby Ellis
bobby.ellis@education.ky.gov

When Fayette County announced that it was looking for 300 volunteers to fill a read-aloud mentoring program, Christian Adair wondered how many people would answer the call. 

“As it turns out, we’ve had to turn away people in a few different schools because of how many volunteers we’ve had,” said Adair, the educating boys of color specialist in Fayette County who heads the district’s R.E.A.L. Men Read program. 

R.E.A.L., which stands for “Read, Excel, Achieve, Lead,” is a national read-aloud program that puts volunteers in schools to help build literacy skills for students. Adair hoped to use the program to connect men in the community with schools and students, creating R.E.A.L. Men Read. 

“We’ve adapted the scholastic program to fit our needs, but the neat thing is that each participating school can adapt it to fit their needs as well,” said Adair. “Some schools are doing full classrooms, others are doing one-to-one reading. It can be molded to what’s needed.

“Yates Elementary has adapted it to be R.E.A.L. Men and Women Read. But we wanted to give men in the community a chance to have their own special program as a way to help connect to the young boys in schools.” 

Volunteers include parents, husbands of teachers, church leaders and other local partners. 

“I jumped on the opportunity to get involved,” said Frank Mabson, a claims coordinator at the Division of Water Quality in Lexington. “And the response is awesome. For me, I want the boys and girls to know that men are supposed to be involved in education.” 

Adair said that another goal of the program is to help schools reflect a larger part of the student population. 

“These volunteers coming in, they’re educators in a large way,” said Adair. “Many of them are parents of the students, so they’re reflecting more of what minority students are seeing in the community and helping them recognize the importance of education.” 

The effect the program has had since it was announced in October 2017 seems to be quite large, according to Sarah Blades, a 4th-grade teacher at Lansdowne Elementary. She credits the program with helping to raise her classes’ literacy score on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test.

“My average score in the fall was 189.2 and my average score in the winter was 205,” said Blades. “There are other factors involved, but I think this program has done so much to help my students with their reading comprehension and reading fluency.” 

Several students at Lansdowne Elementary said they have taken the books given to them for the program home to read with their younger and older siblings. 

“It’s an awesome side effect,” said Adair. 

If you’re interested in learning more about R.E.A.L. Men Read or the R.E.A.L. program, you can visit the R.E.A.L. Scholastics website or the Educating Boys of Color website.

Christian Adair, the head of the R.E.A.L. Men Read program, right, gives a high five to Kyle Hancock, a community partner, before he reads a book to Buckley Hancock's, his wife, 2nd-grade class at Lansdowne Elementary (Fayette County). Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Christian Adair, the head of the R.E.A.L. Men Read program, right, gives a high five to Kyle Hancock, a community partner, before he reads a book to Buckley Hancock’s 2nd-grade class at Lansdowne Elementary (Fayette County). The R.E.A.L. program brings men into the classroom as a way to help them connect to students and to show students that reading can be enjoyable outside of school.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Emmanuel Caulk, the Fayette County superintendent, shows a picture from the book "An Orange in January" to Kelly Middlebrooks' 1st-grade class. Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Emmanuel Caulk, the Fayette County superintendent, shows a picture from the book “An Orange in January” to Kelly Middlebrooks’ 1st-grade class.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Students in Sarah Blades' 4th-grade class listen to Frank Mabson read a book about a young girl wanting to be president as part of the R.E.A.L. Men Read program. Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Students in Sarah Blades’ 4th-grade class listen to Frank Mabson read a book about a young girl wanting to be president as part of the R.E.A.L. Men Read program. The program has been credited by Blades with helping her students improve their literacy scores on the MAP test.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Students in Sarah Blades' 4th-grade class listen to Frank Mabson read a book about a young girl wanting to be president as part of the R.E.A.L. Men Read program. Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Students in Sarah Blades’ 4th-grade class listen to Frank Mabson read a book about a young girl wanting to be president as part of the R.E.A.L. Men Read program.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Christian Adair hands out books to Sarah Blades' 4th-grade class at Lansdowne Elementary (Fayette County). Students get to keep the books from the R.E.A.L. program. Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Christian Adair hands out books to Sarah Blades’ 4th-grade class at Lansdowne Elementary (Fayette County). Students get to keep the books from the R.E.A.L. program. Adair said that the program is adaptable to different school needs and doesn’t have to be open only to men.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Kyle Hancock reads a book about Martin Luther King, Jr. to Buckley Hancock's 2nd-grade class at Lansdowne Elementary (Fayette County). Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018
Kyle Hancock reads a book about Martin Luther King Jr. to Buckley Hancock’s 2nd-grade class at Lansdowne Elementary (Fayette County).
Photo by Bobby Ellis, Jan. 24, 2018

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