WT AmeriCorps Members to Deliver Books, Serve in Schools for World Read Aloud Day


WT AmeriCorps Members to Deliver Books, Serve in Schools for World Read Aloud Day

CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University AmeriCorps members will celebrate World Read Aloud Day on Feb. 1 with activities in elementary schools in Cactus and Amarillo.

Members of WT’s Rural Resilience and Opportunity on the High Plains AmeriCorps program will donate about 1,000 books to Cactus Elementary School, as well as Whittier, Hamlet, Bivins, Rogers, Margaret Wills and Lakeview elementary schools and Carver Academy in the Amarillo Independent School District.

The donations are in conjunction with The Leaders Readers Network, a nonprofit founded by former WT staff member Chris McGilvery that is dedicated to quality education and literacy.

“Our program’s mission is to reach underserved and under-resourced communities, and through a partnership with Leaders Readers Network, we are coming together to meet the schools’ needs,” said Misty Rueda, program director.

WT AmeriCorps, along with other community partners, will be volunteering in the schools to share books and read to students of different grade levels. AmeriCorps members will be participating in the project and serving at Margaret Willis and Cactus Elementary School.

World Read Aloud Day, created by the non-profit LitWorld and sponsored by Scholastic, is celebrated annually in more than 173 countries and brings people together through the shared connection of reading aloud.

“Collaboration is one of our core values and we are thrilled to encourage reading at local Title 1 schools with community partners and volunteers,” McGilvery said.

Cactus Elementary students and WT AmeriCorps members will take part in the school’s Drop Everything And Read, or DEAR, Day. WT AmeriCorps members will read and interact with students throughout the day. Members will talk with older students about the path to college and share their experience of completing secondary school.

Members also will distribute books and read at Margaret Wills.

Since the launch of the program in October 2020, WT AmeriCorps members have worked in Hereford High School, Tulia High School, Randall High School, Midway High School, Pampa High School, Highland Park High School, Canyon High School, West Plains High School and Friona High School. Members also have helped high school students in Perryton and Dimmitt, as well as students at Frank Phillips College in Dalhart and Perryton.

Members also serve in community-based organizations, such as Square Mile, Speiro Legacies, Guyon Saunders Resource Center, Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, Amarillo Angels and Los Barrios in Amarillo, as well as others in the region, including Cactus Nazarene Ministries, Borger High Plains Helping Hands and Dalhart Senior Citizens Association.

Work in Cactus began last year; WT AmeriCorps members works with Cactus Nazarene Ministries to provide a myriad of services to Cactus’ diverse population.

“We have an incredible network of regional partners who are coming together to address the most pressing needs of Panhandle communities,” Rueda said. “Partnering with community-based organizations like public schools, municipalities, community colleges and others is a huge component of our mission and working within our focus areas of economic opportunity, healthy futures and education outcomes.”

AmeriCorps continues to seek mentors, recruiting not only WT students, but also those from Amarillo College, Frank Phillips College and Clarendon College, as well as retired teachers, counselors and other members of the community. This summer, the program also will be looking to recruit high school students or recent graduates ages 18 and older to work with local organizations on various community projects.

Those selected for summer service will work from May through July, and others can serve September through May 2024 for the regular term. Members work in their own and nearby communities. They will receive a monthly living allowance and, at the end of their service, can receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to help pay for educational expenses and qualified student loans.

The application process begins with completing the program’s official application form.

Community partners also are being sought. Click here to contact the WT AmeriCorps office.

Addressing regional challenges and emphasizing educational attainment and economic opportunity in the Panhandle are major components of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $115 million.


Photo: West Texas A&M University AmeriCorps member Jane Bailey reads to Dalhart Elementary School students during the 2022 World Read Aloud Day.