Project MORE helps students learn to read

By Sean Barron


No complicated phrases or explanations are needed to better understand how 8-year-old Shawn Ivy’s reading abilities continue to improve.

“This program is benefiting him greatly as far as his attitude and discipline,” said Shawn’s father, Tyrone Ivy. “He’s moving forward and headed in the right direction.”

The elder Ivy was referring to his son’s being part of the Mentoring in Ohio for Reading and Excellence program, which he predicts will help lay the groundwork for Shawn to be a productive, community-minded teenager and adult.

Project MORE is a scientifically based reading initiative for students in kindergarten through grade 12 who have special needs and challenges or are at risk for failure in reading.

Father and son were among the mentors, students and parents in Project MORE who were recognized during Thursday’s two-hour appreciation luncheon at William Holmes McGuffey Elementary School, 310 S. Schenley Ave., on the city’s West Side.

Also on hand were those in HandsOn Volunteer Network of the Valley’s RSVP Lead with Experience Volunteers program.

Among his favorite books is “Where Do Animals Live?” by AnnMarie McLaughlin, said Shawn, a McGuffey Elementary second-grader.

Project MORE has four mentors who work two to four days a week to help eight students in kindergarten through sixth grade with their reading comprehension, noted Katherine Buonavolonta, a special-education teacher of youngsters in kindergarten through grade two.

Mentors spend 30 minutes each session with the youngsters who are struggling with reading, she explained.

“They look at the reading packet with lesson plans and activities and work one-on-one with the students,” Buonavolonta added.

One of the mentors is Karen Higham of Poland, who works with Shawn and another student.

Higham, who took reading-mentoring courses at Youngstown State University and worked at the Rich Center for the Study and Treatment of Autism, said she appreciates having the materials handy for her twice-weekly sessions.

“I read and they follow along with their finger at first, then we read it together and then they read it independently,” she explained, adding that her two students also are encouraged to retell the story in their own words.

Supplementing the sessions are activities in which they draw or write their interpretations of what they have heard along with vocabulary games and a means to check their comprehension, Higham continued.

Project MORE is expected to grow and expand to a greater number of classrooms in the school next year, said Principal Cathy Dorbish.

The parents are excited about the effort, and mentors are highly committed to helping the children succeed in reading, she said.

Additional mentors are needed to assist with the reading program, and plans are in the works to incorporate Project MORE into additional city schools for the 2014-15 school year, explained Addonnus Harden, RSVP’s program manager.

Those interested in being mentors are asked to contact Harden at 330-782-5877 or email her at

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