Lita Rouser reads to Alyssa Geisler's first-grade class twice a month. The reading time has become something Rouser looks forward to.
She is just one of 55 Logansport professionals who are participating with Cass County Reading Railroad's Business Partner Program this year.
Now in its sixth year, the program pairs business partners with a kindergarten or first-grade class in Cass County. Volunteers then visit the classroom monthly to facilitate a special story time. Participating schools are Logansport elementary schools, as well as Thompson Elementary, All Saints School and Pioneer Elementary, said Rena Sterrett, Reading Railroad program director.
Each volunteer donates 30 minutes to the children in an assigned classroom and each class in Cass County has at least one partner, Sterrett said.
Partners will meet and read once a month through May.
New this year, most business partners sponsored their classrooms in order to bring back book donations made at monthly visits. A total of 440 books will be donated.
Sterrett said business partners were excited to donate and that sponsoring the books helps teachers expand their library.
"It ties school and community together, which is wonderful," Sterrett said. "It gives business people the opportunity to connect with kids in the schools. When kids are out in the community, they might see a business partner they know. It’s a neat connection to bring people together."
Most of the volunteers are employees of local businesses as well as a few retired teachers. There are currently three people on a waiting list to be considered for next year's program.
"It’s a popular program, and it says a lot about community members wanting to be involved," Sterrett said.
Although the volunteer slots are filled, those interested in helping out next year can watch on Get Connected, a volunteer database, for volunteer opportunities.
"The Reading Railroad believes that reading and literacy are the foundational components to a successful life, and we also believe that our partners are the leaders who inspire the children of our shared communities to both read and lead," Sterrett said.
Rouser decided to participate because she enjoys working with the children, she said.
"It's rewarding to go in a classroom and see that they are delighted to hear stories," Rouser said. "They’re engaged with the books. I think there is value in it."
Rouser said participating doesn't take much time. She said it has never taken her more than 45 minutes with travel time.
"It's something I really look forward to," Rouser said. "It's not a sense of adding one more thing to do, it becomes something you want to make happen."
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her: @PharosAES.