GK Listeners Program, 2022

Like other Kiwanis clubs, Ames Golden K’s primary focus is service to children. In Winter 2014, Golden K leadership began considering a more direct outreach to students in Ames and proposed a new reading service project for elementary school students. In Spring 2015, Golden K contacted the Ames Community School District, Director of Raising Readers of Story County and other local educators to explore ideas. Dave Peterson, Edwards Elementary Principal, and Golden K leaders agreed to pilot a reading project with Edwards First Graders in September 2015. After 2 successful years working with Edwards First Graders and Kindergartners, the program expanded to Sawyer Elementary in 2017.  The project has continued at both schools except for a break in 2020 due to Covid.  All requirements {orientation, background checks, photo nametags, close interaction with classroom teachers} by Ames Community School District for participation in the Listeners program have been met each year.  There are currently 30 Ames GK members who help make this project successful.

In recognition of this partnership, three Edwards Elementary teachers {L to R, Brooke Dalen, Amy Simonson, Selena Montag} spoke recently at Golden K’s weekly meeting.

They enthusiastically endorsed and elaborated on the many benefits of the GK Listeners project, and how it plays a direct role in building positive relationships with First Graders while working on literary skills through reading books and playing games. A typical day includes GK Listeners spending 60-90 minutes primarily listening to the students read and not reading to them. They work on a 1-1 basis as much as possible either outside the classroom in the large hallway or in the classroom.  Brooke, Amy and Selena noted that Kids and Teachers simply adore the Listeners program.  Another Edwards teacher observed “It’s been a really good program. Honestly, I think there is a lot of academic gain that comes along with it, but , really, I think a lot of our kids just want someone, especially males because a lot of our kids don’t have a strong male role model in their life, so even just the mentoring that happens is really huge for them.” Golden K member Pete Peterson commented “As a Listener, I could tell that the 1st Graders word pronunciation rhythm and expressiveness showed improvement as the school year went by. We gave the students an opportunity to practice reading out loud to a willing set of ears. It was fun for both the students and myself.” 

Ames Golden K is looking forward to continuing its partnership with Ames Edwards and Sawyer Elementary Schools, and perhaps expanding the program to other grade levels within these schools.