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'Leaders for Readers' program expands in Knox Co. schools

The mission for this program is to increase the number of students who can read proficiently by third-grade.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Great Schools Partnership's Leaders for Readers program is expanding in Knox County. Now, more than half of Knox County elementary schools will participate in this program that aims to help students improve their reading skills.

RELATED: Tennessee reading scores make slow climb

This year, volunteers will serve more than 1,000 elementary school students across the district, ranging from first through third grade. 

“Last year, 170 volunteers worked with more than 750 students under this program,” said Janine Al-Aseer, the innovation project manager with Great Schools Partnership.

Funding for the expansion was made possible by a $15,000 donation from the First Tennessee Foundation. Great Schools Partnership started the program five years ago.

“Last year, our benchmark testing showed that 85% of students that participated in our program showed growth in their reading,” Al-Aseer said.

RELATED: Tennessee releases newest TNReady test scores

That includes overall reading ability, reading comprehension, oral reading fluency, attitude about school and attitude about reading.

The mission for this program is to increase the number of students who can read proficiently by third grade. Currently, less than half of Knox County third graders are reading at grade level.

RELATED: Only 40 percent of Knox County 3rd graders are reading at grade level

Now that the program is expanding, Leaders for Readers needs more volunteers. To become a volunteer, you must be at least 18 years old and commit to reading with students for one hour per week during the school year.

“Not only is it just a small commitment of an hour a week. The impact is huge,” Al-Aseer said. “It’s going to be the best hour that you spend all week.”

To sign up to volunteer, call 865-215-4501 or click here.

Below is a list of the ten new schools that have been added to the volunteer-led reading assisted program.


1. Bonny Kate Elementary

2. Dogwood Elementary

3. East Knox Elementary

4. Karns Elementary

5. Mount Olive Elementary

6. Pond Gap Elementary

7. Ritta Elementary

8. Sam E. Hill Primary

9. Sunnyview Primary

10. West Haven Elementary

Below are the 15 schools that are already active in the Leaders for Readers program.

1. Ball Camp Elementary

2. Beaumont Magnet Academy

3. Belle Morris Elementary

4. Fountain City Elementary

5. Green Magnet Academy

6. Inskip Elementary

7. Lonsdale Elementary

8. Maynard Elementary

9. New Hopewell Elementary

10. Norwood Elementary

11. Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy

12. South Knoxville Elementary

13. Spring Hill Elementary

14. West Hills Elementary

15. West View Elementary

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