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Excerpts from Oak Cliff People

By Karley Osborn

Staff Writer


The Dallas skyline is barely visble above the faced trees surrounding Roger Q. Mills Elementary.  The East Oak Cliff school was constructed in 1930, and it wears its age everywhere…

Fast-forward to the present.  Today, students in the Mills Reading Partners program review vocabulary words, sound out sentences, and complete worksheets in a bright, clean room that features white boards and sticker charts that track at-home reading.  The pilot program was so successful , in fact, that 10 Dallas schools now boast an on-campus Reading Partners center.  But a top-notch book nook isn’t the only that’s been renewed at Roger Q. Mills.

“Things have extended from people who have been volunteers for our campus,” principal Glorious Crowder said.

Consider Mills a classic example of the ripple effect, and consider advocates such as Shannon Gilliland and Val Haskell primary sources of the school’s momentum.  Haskell is among the program’s first group of volunteers, having signed up at the recommendation of Cynthia Yung, executive director of the Boone Family Foundation.

“Reading’s just one of the most basic, fundamental skills,” Haskell said of the the program’s importance.  “so if we have kids who are behind in reading, the likelihood of them being behing for the rest of their education career – and the rest of their adult working career – is very high.”

“She basically built up single-handedly the volunteer pool here at Mills Elementary, said Kaitlin Guthrow, regional executive director of Reading Partners in Dallas.  “She is just one of those people who wants to see constant change in her community; she wants to support public education and she wantes to know how.”