Tiger Readers - Alexandria Community School Corporation

Your generosity builds confidence and inspires positive lifelong skills in children that will impact the community for years to come.  

“What do you think about bringing the Tiger Reading program back?”

This question was presented to Leigh Bivens, an English Teacher and cheer coach at Alexandria-Monroe High School in 2022. Marty Caroll, Alexandria-Monroe’s basketball coach remembered the Tiger Reader program from the 1990’s that was established by Coach Garth Cone and got the idea that he and Bivens could establish the program again together. The program had been discontinued for over 20 years due to funding.  

Tiger Readers pairs high school basketball players and cheerleaders with elementary school students to encourage daily reading. To kick the program off, the school hosts a pep rally with participation from the band and athletes. Athletes play games with the children and celebrate reading. After the kick-off, children are sent home with reading trackers that encourage 20 minutes of daily reading. To keep the value of reading in the forefront of the mind of the children, several athletes go to the elementary school on Fridays to read to the children and engage with them through conversation and play. These relationships naturally evolve into encouraging mentoring relationships.

In order to bring the program back, Bivens and Carroll knew they needed both the support of teachers and administration as well as funding. They easily obtained the support of school administrative officials.TR2

A Community Impact Grant from the Madison County Community Foundation provided funds to revive Tiger Readers.  

Children are motivated by prizes based on minutes read. Prizes not only incentivize reading, but also communicate the value that reading has in a person’s life. At a recent Tiger Readers celebration, Alexandria-Monroe elementary school recognized a total of 9,622 hours of reading. 380 students read for 400 minutes, 309 for 800 minutes, 267 for 1000 minutes, 224 for 1200 minutes, and 194 for 1400 minutes. They received awards of buttons, tshirts, books, a glow party, and a movie outing.

Not only does Tiger Readers inspire reading for the elementary children, it builds confidence in the high school athletes. Some of the athletes are shy and timid and may feel they are not adequate readers themselves. Bivens provides initial training and strategies for reading and connecting with the children.  Tiger Readers provides a space for athletes to develop new skills and for their natural leadership abilities to thrive.  

The initial funding from the Impact Grant from Madison County Community Foundation allowed for the program to be reimplemented and the program has continued because the community of Alexandria has embraced its value and gotten behind it financially. One donor remembers reading to children as a football player and how much the kids looked up to him. He felt like a hero. It meant so much to him as a student that when he heard the program had come back, he was moved to give generously to help sustain the program. Others like him have contributed through budget dollars and prizes.

“We have dreams for how this could be bigger and bigger,” Bivens says.

TR1Administration, teachers, parents, and the community value this program. Reading matters. Confidence matters. Mentorship and celebration matters. All of this is making a lifelong impact for these students and in the community.

Every gift, large and small, contributes to the mission of Madison County Community Foundation to increase the quality of life for the citizens of Madison County. Consider giving to the Impact Madison Fund to help us continue to meet emerging local needs. All donations to this fund will be tripled. Your generosity truly does build confidence and establish positive lifelong habits in children that will impact for years to come. 

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