Educator seeks help with reading program

Published 9:59 am Monday, November 23, 2009

ROME TOWNSHIP — It all started with a simple prayer that Margaret Keeney made one night before going to bed.

Children have always been the mission of the Fairland East principal, who started her career in education as a speech pathologist. And children with special needs have a special place in Keeney’s heart.

So much so that giving them the best education they can get has always been her goal.

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One Wednesday at her church for the weekly service, she started talking to others about her desire to make more progress with those children.

“That night when I said my prayers, I asked God to give me a way to reach those kids,” Keeney said.

The next morning she ran across a DVD she had gotten months earlier that was promoting a computer program about teaching phonics. She called the company to find out more, only to learn the grant funding the program had dried up.

But from that call, she discovered what could be a lifeline in educating children with learning disabilities. It’s called Project More or Mentoring in Ohio for Reading Excellence and is used by 150 schools in Ohio.

The volunteer-based program has shown that students with learning disabilities can make significant progress when they are put in a one-on-one tutoring situation four times a week for 30 minutes.

Now Keeney is out recruiting volunteers to have bring about these changes in a child’s life.

The main requirement is a desire to help a child and Keeney is open to talk about the program and the impact it can have to any civic groups interested.

Also any individual who would like to be a mentor can contact Keeney.

No teaching experience is required and training will be provided.

“When people give their time to do this with a child, they make a bond,” Keeney said. “There is not a more wonderful feeling to see that light bulb come on.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or learning more about the program can contact Keeney at 886-3120.