HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Huntsville Dream Center (HDC) has partnered with Huntsville City Schools (HCS) to boost student and staff success at Sonnie Hereford Elementary.

A team from HDC paid a visit to the school Wednesday, delivering 600 pairs of headphones, 600 water bottles, and over 200 bottles of hand sanitizer.

“We are here at Sonnie Hereford Elementary School today to start up a new program by Huntsville Dream Center called Sonnie Side Up. We have a lot of different caveats that we’re going to use for this school. For instance, we’re actually implementing a reading program here at the school,” Huntsville Dream Center Program Coordinator/Grant Writer/Social Media Manager Katie Jones said.

Sonnie Hereford, a Title 1 school, is also a Comprehensive Support and Improvement School. Jones tells News 19 that the school is in the bottom 5% of all Title 1 schools in Alabama.

“Their scores are only 75% of their whole entire student body are underneath grade level. We took it upon ourselves to help in this situation,” added Jones. “We’re implementing a reading program where we’re going to pull out some of the students that are a little bit lower than the rest of the class and we’re going to read to them in a smaller group and help them take their AR test in hopes to increase their overall interest in reading along with those test scores.”

The reading program begins the week of September 18th after the school completes its initial testing on the students for the school year. 

HDC is looking for volunteers to read to the students. Their initial investment in the school will be the reading program, which will allow the center to pull one to three students from Kindergarten through 2nd grade to read to them, discuss the story, and then help them take a comprehensive AR test about the story afterward with about 25 volunteers a week.  

Volunteers are asked to give one hour a week (or more) between 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on a weekday of their choosing. HDC also requires a semester commitment from volunteers to be sure that the program maintains the relationship with the school properly.

Monetary donations, lending an extra set of hands to help with school events, classroom supplies, and once-a-month club sponsors, are just some of the needs identified by the school. HDC hopes the community will get involved to help out.  

“Whether that’s through workforce development, racial reconciliation, food insecurity, and all these other problems we see so heavily in our city…it’s our hope and dream to build bridges to mend the gap in a sense. For this program specifically, it starts at Sonnie Hereford Elementary,” Jones said.

To learn more about the Huntsville Dream Center, click this link.