ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – Students in the City of Rochester can continue their education in a more interactive way at local rec centers this new school year. The city is expanding its ”ROC Kids Read” literacy program. 

It’s all about moving that needle in early grade literacy scores for Rochester city children.

“The level A, ROC kids reading program is foundational skills,” said Sophia Amaxopoulous, owner of Learning Curve Tutoring & Educational Services out of Webster. 

It’s how kids at various rec centers in Rochester are going to be learning how to read this fall. The curriculum is based on play, then learning to connect letters to sound. 

“For instance, they’re learning the letter B, we give them a sandbox and draw the letter B three or four times. Then transfer these skills to paper, so they’re able to draw and write the letter B correctly,” said Amaxopoulous. 

Amaxopoulous spent 12 years working in the city school district prior to starting her tutoring business. Over those years, she collected the lesson plans that were effective.

“Most of the lessons that worked really well, we’re the lessons where the kids got really involved and were engaged and weren’t really thinking about I’m learning,” said Amaxopoulous

The rec center instructors will be heavily trained. But the key that unlocks the achievement in reading she says is creating great relationships with the kids. 

“There’s lots of kids that don’t want to go to an after school program after being in school all day.  The instructors are a key piece in that with those relationships that they have to make that transition easier for the kids,” said Amaxopoulous. 

The ROC Kids Read Literacy program is spearheaded by Mayor Lovely Warren. Its pilot program included 40 children, this year the expansion will help 200 more kids this school year. The expansion was recently given the grade by the city council. Efforts to help children score better in reading with state exams.

“As we know in this community they are well below the state average and well below what we would like them to be for K through 3. So this has been a community-wide initiative, and I have been charged with looking at what are we going to do out of school time to support this initiative,” said Daniele Lyman-Torres, the city’s Commissioner of Recreation and Youth Services.  “We can always do more and better. But doing something and working to make a difference in the students today is as important as planning for the students tomorrow.” 

The initiative is planning on a certification program for literacy instructors in the near future.