On Friday, Sept. 20, the University of Louisiana at Monroe College of Education and Human Development’s Developing Rigorous Experiential Academic Models (DREAM) Office partnered with CenturyLink to present CenturyLink Reader Leaders—a new literacy initiative program for the area.
The program places CenturyLink employees and ULM education teacher candidates into local elementary school classrooms twice per month to read children’s books promoting financial literacy and basic business principles.
Dr. Lynn Clark, assistant professor of curriculum, instruction, and leadership and the director of DREAM, said, “The CenturyLink Reader Leaders program helps students start thinking about college and career choices by bringing the world of work into the classroom through literature and diverse role models.”
The program began last spring at Berg Jones Lane Elementary School, where CenturyLink employees read aloud to third and fourth grade classrooms, engaging students and sharing their own stories as they discussed the economic ideas within the stories.
“The CenturyLink Reader Leader program gives us the chance to start early in introducing children to what the future might hold for them in the business world,” said Odell Riley, CenturyLink vice president of IT operations services and ULM graduate. “We want to help ensure today’s children have multiple opportunities in tomorrow’s high-tech world. We’re excited to partner with ULM as this program grows to more schools.”
One book included in the program, “My Rows and Piles of Coins” by Tololwa M. Mollel, follows Saruni, a young boy who acts as both consumer and seller in his local Tanzanian market. His story highlights the costs and benefits of spending and saving money, touching on various economic concepts made accessible for students in elementary grades.
Clark expects great things from the program. She said, “Students can see themselves and their future in the books and [in the readers], who share their stories of how they moved from the classroom to successful careers at CenturyLink.”
The program expects to impact over a thousand elementary students over the next year.