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Elgin

Improving Early Literacy at Green Magnet Elementary

Kids need champions — people willing to fight, stand, lead, direct … teach. Champions came together at Green Magnet Elementary School in Knoxville to become mentors for students after two years of talking, planning, strategizing, and … dreaming.

Members of the Beta Theta Chapter of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, a service organization of business leaders from Knoxville, met to plan the January 2014 launch of an after-school mentoring program at Green Magnet. Sigma Pi Phi members will partner with a second grade child who has fallen behind in literacy achievements, mentor him throughout spring semester to help him catch up, then prepare him to begin the next school year reading at (and we hope above) a third grade level.

A representative of the Elgin Foundation spent the entire day with seven members of Sigma Pi, teaching them how to use the Funnix Reading Program. By next term, they expect their number of volunteers to almost triple when they’re joined by students from the University of Tennessee. Funnix helps students move from being non-readers to reading at a beginning third grade level through a carefully sequenced series of lessons. The program was developed by Siegried (Zig) Engelmann.

lonnie-and-abby

It was through the leadership of Beth Lackey, Green Magnet’s visionary principal, Destiny Glover of Community Schools Partnership, and Stephanie Welch and Buzz Thomas at Great Schools Partnership that this orientation session was planned and organized. But ultimately, the real catalysts were the champions from Sigma Pi Phi: Dr. Harold Black, Dr. Lonnie McIntyre, Dennis Upton, and others created momentum through their compassion, energy, and vision. They are truly inspirational, and Elgin Foundation is convinced they’ll soon see children at Green Magnet flourish because of their efforts.

The most heartwarming part of the training was to watch Dr. McIntyre gently work with six-year old Abby during the session as he thoughtfully guided her through a lesson. With this kind of quality mentoring, it won’t be long until he and his fellow Beta Theta brothers see the children of Green Magnet thrive.

*For those interested about how Funnix works, go to: www.funnix.com

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