When the red shirts arrive, students are bound to leave with a smile. That’s right, the Delta Reading Buddies program has returned to Dobbs and Hutchinson elementary schools.
In an effort to increase engagement and student reading achievement, more than 150 Delta Airlines employees are volunteering their time twice monthly to read to their APS buddies throughout the school year.
Delta employee Emmakate Young is a Grady High School, Inman Middle School and Morningside Elementary School alumna. Her mom is a former APS kindergarten teacher, and her nieces are current APS students. Volunteering with the Delta Reading Buddies program is personal for her.
“It feels amazing,” said Young. “I feel so blessed to have gotten to go to APS. I know that it’s still really important to give back and so the fact that Delta affords this opportunity to give back and that APS opens its doors to allow us to come (and I’m also an avid reader), is just wonderful. I jumped at the chance. I’m really impressed by the program.”
Hutchinson Principal Dr. Shuanta Broadway says it’s a remarkable partnership that her students look forward to each month; it’s especially special for those students who don’t have someone who reads to them outside of the classroom.
“We have a mantra at Delta that no one better connects the world, and we believe [through] our partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, particularly Dobbs and Hutchinson, we’re better connecting the world through literacy, through the love of learning. We’re so excited to be in our second year in our partnership,” said LaSandra Boykins, Delta Airlines community affairs project manager.
In addition to a commitment of time, Delta has donated hundreds of free books and ample resources. Last year, Delta committed to a five-year partnership with Atlanta Public Schools. In its first year, Delta employees donated $350,000. This summer, The Delta Air Lines Foundation announced a $300,000 donation to support literacy efforts at Atlanta schools.
With the additional resources, Hutchinson Elementary was able to hire two new instructional coaches.
“We know we need to take care of our community, take care of those students, those scholars that are in our backyard,” Boykins said. “Our partnership with the South Atlanta Cluster was strategic. These are not only our future customers but our future leaders.”