Clifford Clarke, executive director of computer and technology services at Ivy Tech, paid a charmingly low-tech visit to Brentwood Elmentary School, 3710 Stafford Drive, Thursday.He came to read, aloud, pausing frequently to ask a classroom of third-graders probing questions about “Roscoe Rules No. 1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs.” As they followed along in their own copies of the paperback he passed out to them, he teased out definitions of words not all of them would know and asked them about their reactions as the story unfolded.
Clarke was among more than 200 volunteers who launched United Way of Allen County's Real Men Read volunteer program, which is coordinated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana. United Way says the program aims to help local children read at grade level by the end of third grade.
In spring 2012, 85 percent of third-graders in Allen County passed the language portion of the ISTEP exams, according to United Way, up from 72 percent in 2008. The Real Men Read volunteers visited second- and third-grade classrooms to read to kids and engage them in discussions about the stories.
Volunteers visit the classrooms once per month from October through March and hand out copies of the books they read to all of the students to help them build home libraries.