East Moline Rotarians launch literacy project for Third Graders

EAST MOLINE, Illinois -

At Ridgewood Elementary School, there's a connection between literacy and language.

But in Lindy Slyter's Third Grade class, more than a third of her students speak English as a second language.

And with nearly 30 languages spoken by kids, that creates barriers to learning.

"It's difficult for them just to understand even some of the basic stuff that we're learning," she said, on Wednesday, May 17.

That's why a special project to buy iPads is important. The East Moline/Silvis Rotary Club is working to raise $52,000 to boost literacy among future Third Graders.

"It sort of helps you with different words," said Kendall Crawford, 9.  "When you read a normal book, you know the words."

The project will support nearly 400 Third Graders at five schools.

"Looking at an iPad, it's like you have a library in your hands," said Assistant Superintendent Sheri Coder.

Third Grade, it turns out, is a pivotal time for future achievement. Without reading skills, it's virtually impossible to advance.

"You are four times more likely not to graduate from high school," Coder continued.  "That's a scary statistic."

At a time when Illinois schools face drastic cuts and uncertain funding, Rotarians and community groups are stepping up to the plate.

Out of the first $12,000 raised by the club, it will buy 20 iPads to debut during summer school.

But there's still more money to raise.  Donors should check out: http://iPad.emsilrotary.org

"The challenge is to get them to read and write English, so that they can function here," said Rotary President Terry Westbrook.

Lindy Slyter knows all about the daily challenges. She hopes that the project will create better readers.

"It's just another tool that we have in our pocket that can help these students," she concluded.

Students who will learn to enjoy a world of words at Ridgewood Elementary School.