October 13th, 2015

Bush Foundation2 - 1 Barbara Bush Foundation representatives, Becky Dyer, (second from left) Jill Conner Browne, (center), and Jim Wilkirson (right) met with JA Headmaster Pat Taylor and faculty member Audrey Wilkirson about JA helping bring the Barbara Bush Reading Foundation mentoring program called TeenTrendsetters™ to Mississippi.

Jackson Academy has teamed up with the Barbara Bush Reading Foundation TeenTrendsetters™ program to pair student mentors with young readers who need to enhance their reading skills. This program that has inspired significant reading and academic success in other states begins this year in Mississippi. JA will kick off its literacy project with Spann Elementary on Thursday, October 15.

Student mentors exhibit academic ability, a love of reading, and willingness to mentor a first, second, or third grader who is reading below grade level. The program seeks to improve reading skills, build confidence, foster an interest in science, and generate higher reading scores. Student mentors volunteer time each week one-on-one with their mentee to read and bond. Mentors complete a training process to participate. An adult advisor oversees each program. The advisor for JA is Audrey Wilkirson.

TeenTrendsetters™ reports that mentees begin the program, on average, six to nine months below grade level and after seven months have advanced reading skills by one full academic year. Graduation rates rise as well, with those in TeenTrendsetters™ achieving a graduation rate of 98 percent versus the national average of 81 percent, according to 2011-12 school year statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics. Through the program, mentees also receive 17 books that they get to keep. Scholastic, Inc. provides materials to participating schools.