SALISBURY, N.C. – For the past 10 years, volunteers from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and the surrounding community have brought the joy of reading to area elementary school students through the College’s Read Across Rowan and Cabarrus Counties (RARCC) initiative. Each year, readers fan out across the counties to visit classrooms, reading books aloud with second graders and gifting them with their own book to take home.
The project, launched by Rowan-Cabarrus as a literacy initiative in partnership with the Rowan Rotary Club, quickly grew to encompass both Rowan and Cabarrus counties. Coordinated by Dr. Jenny Billings, chair of the Rowan-Cabarrus English department, and English instructor Jade Bittle, RARCC has grown from a visit to a single school the first year to include as many as nine schools in a year.
The addition of gifted age-appropriate books further encourages literacy outside the classroom, especially since Title I schools are included in the RARCC visitation schedule. Title I schools serve a high percentage of students from low-income families and, although these schools qualify for additional federal support, students may have less access to books at home.
The RARCC program welcomes donations of books or financial contributions from Rowan-Cabarrus faculty, staff, students and the community throughout the year, and the Rowan-Cabarrus Foundation provides additional funding to purchase books. RARCC partners with Second Look Books of Harrisburg, and anyone may donate like-new or good condition used books to the shop and ask to have their credit applied to the Rowan-Cabarrus account.
“We appreciate the support we have received over the years, and the support we will receive in the years to come,” Billings said. “The number of books we collect or can purchase determines the number of schools we are able to visit each year. With continued support, we hope to be able to visit all Title I schools in Cabarrus and Rowan counties.”
This year, 22 volunteers visited four elementary schools and gifted 300 books to second graders. Readers included Rowan-Cabarrus faculty, staff, community friends, and students from the College’s Skills, Opportunity, Awareness, Readiness (SOAR) program at South Campus. After hearing a book in observance of March as National Reading Month, the students were able to unwrap their own books.
“We are delighted to see this important project reach its 10th year and are excited to see how much more it can grow,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “Children who become lovers of reading at a young age become curious, lifelong learners.”
For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).