CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — West Texas A&M University’s AmeriCorps program, in partnership with a Canyon-based nonprofit, is bringing the gift of reading to elementary students across the Texas Panhandle.

Members of WT’s Rural Resilience and Opportunity on the High Plains AmeriCorps program will partner with The Leader Readers Network founded by former WT staffer Chris McGilvery in 2012 and visit students in Canyon, Dalhart, Friona and Hereford as part of the program’s Service Day program.

According to WT, the network “works with teachers to pair older students with younger ones in an effort to foster leadership skills, enable child-centered coaching and encourage a love of reading.”

Laura Seals, assistant director of R2OHP’s Office of Academic and Regional Collaboration explains the importance of Martin Luther King Day, as it has been and official AmeriCorps Service Day since 1994.

“These service days provide opportunities for our AmeriCorps members to engage in meaningful service, gain experience in a new educational setting and become a part of a larger effort to ensure that children in underserved communities have equal access to books and the opportunity to get excited about their learning,” Seals said.

“Leaders Readers Network is a perfect match for our members because both organizations are committed to increasing educational attainment around the Panhandle, as well as to building a more supportive, resilient, inclusive and equitable environment,” Seals continued.

WT detailed that on Jan. 14 AmeriCorps members delivered books to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students at Lakeview Elementary School in Canyon, and members are set to deliver books to Dalhart Intermediary School on Jan. 19, Friona Primary School and Hereford West Central Elementary School on Jan. 21.

MLK Day service project will result in a donation of more than 750 books, including bilingual books and according to WT, since the program began in October 2020, AmeriCorps members have worked in school across the Panhandle including, Hereford High School, Tulia High School, Randall High School, Pampa High School, Highland Park High School, Canyon High School, and Friona High School.

The program continues to look for mentors, recruiting from Amarillo College, Frank Phillips College and Clarendon College, along with retired teachers, counselors, and members of the community.

WT added that selected members will serve from January through July in their communities and will receive a monthly living allowance, and at the end of service, may receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to help for students loans.

To apply for the program, visit my.americorps.gov and search for WT’s program.