Sam Rutigliano, former coach of the Cleveland Browns, had a strong desire to help inner city youth and as a result, laid the groundwork for an afterschool program that would improve reading skills, offer sports and training, and influence healthy living.

We know that kids can have successful lives without mastering a sport, but they cannot lead successful lives without learning how to read. Aiming Higher is a highly developed literacy program to give third graders support they need for success in third grade and beyond. The program meets four days per week (two days for Literacy, one day for Personal Development, and one day for Physical Fitness) at Robert H. Jamison School.

Literacy Component
The Aiming Higher Reading program has helped the students become much stronger readers. Many students were apprehensive about reading books for two afternoons a week, but they have tutors that make the reading sessions engaging.

We first want to tell you about the kinds of experiences the children have when reading with their tutors. Read on to see how your child is doing.

Ms. Pasiadis, Literacy tutor writes:
What happens when you look into the backside of a spoon? Does your nose look bigger than normal? Do your eyes look funny? Have you ever played the game of telephone? What happens to the message that you send throughout the chain? Does it lose its original meaning? Did the story you just heard teach you a lesson? If so, what do you think it is? These are the questions Mrs. Pasiadis explored with her students as they were learning how folktales lose their original meaning through time, how tall tales are exaggerated folktales and how fables are usually stories with a moral. And to Think that I saw it on Mulberry Street, John Henry and His Mighty Hammer, The Five Chinese Brothers, Head, Body and Legs, an African story and The Fox and the Grapes are just a few of the many stories that taught these ideas to the children in Mrs. “P’s” group.Ms. Michal, Literacy tutor writes:
Miss Michal’s group has read and learned about fairy tales and folklore so far. We greatly indulged our imaginations by reading a revamp of the original story of the three little pigs- this time from
the wolf’s perspective. Then we “traveled” to Kenya to discover all sorts of African animals by playing a game of bingo and learning about the Nandi people. The students also played a matching game to create “stone soup” with all sorts of vegetable ingredients we had learned to recognize. After that, we were challenged to spell the entire name of Rumpelstiltskin and discussed the concept of a fairy tale. We then “adventured” across North America with Paul Bunyan and his crew while we learned more about literary exaggeration. Last but not least, the group read a Cherokee legend about selflessness and courage to help others in great need.

Personal Development Component
Personal Development offers the students many opportunities to meet with leaders in the community. Various role models, such as Coach Sam Rutigliano, have highlighted the significant strides the third graders are making.

Physical Fitness Component- HKR
Healthy Kids Rock is a health and education program that embraces the impact of music and entertainment while also teaching students how to stay physically active.

Ms. Kim, Literacy tutor writes:
The students in Miss Kim’s group have been exploring fables, folktales and mythology from all over the world. They have shared twenty-one stories from five different countries on four different continents! Many of our stories have been modern interpretations of classic literature, but some of them have been brand new stories that offer modern values in a familiar story-telling style. Our favorite was the new telling of The Ant and the Grasshopper which no longer has an ending of poor Grasshopper left out in the cold to starve, now he gets to share his music making talent with Ant, who learns that everyone in society matters. Many of our stories have had common elements, such as the themes and morals in the mythology and fables, but some of our common elements have sparked fun crafting projects – like our three books with spiders, Anansi The Spider a folktale from Western Africa, Arachne the Greek myth, and our Halloween Hoots and Howls poetry book. The students had a lot of fun making their own colorful spiders to take home.

CSICF’s Aiming Higher Program Staff
Ori Akrish, Executive Director
Catherine Thomas, Academic Director
Nathan Doerr, Literacy Coordinator
Vanessa Pasiadis, Literacy Tutor
Michal Colie, Literacy Tutor
Kim Kattas, Literacy Tutor