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Future–ready Reading

Collaborative results in new book aimed at second–graders BY ELIZABETH KERLIKOWSKE


very article about a schoolbook should start with a quiz, so here we go: Kalamazoo is known for Checker cabs, Gibson guitars and the Pfizer vaccine, among other products, but what scholarship program is Kalamazoo known for? What longtime local civic group is made up of business people? And how are these two nonprofits connected? You probably got the first two answers right: The Kalamazoo Promise and the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo. As for their connection to each other, the Promise is the inspiration for a new book, What Do You See in Room 21 C? — which will be distributed to every second– grader in Kalamazoo Public Schools through the Rotary is for Reading program. Rotary is for Reading was created in 2009, when the local Rotary Club joined forces with Communities In Schools (CIS) to help promote literacy and college awareness. Each spring Rotarians visited Kalamazoo Public Schools second–grade classrooms to read the book I Know I Can, by Veronica Chapman, to students, talk about college and The Kalamazoo Promise, and present each student with their own copy of the book. But after a decade of using I Know I Can, the program sought a new book that “was unique and tailored to Kalamazoo, that referenced The Kalamazoo Promise,” says Kevin Brozovich, chief people advisor at Rose Street Advisors and a Kalamazoo Rotary member since 2010. CIS had a donor willing to underwrite the cost of developing a new book, and in 2018 they asked Jennifer Clark, a KPS parent and a published poet who coordinates special projects and initiatives at CIS, to write the book. Clark was a natural choice, according to Brozovich. “Communities In Schools is an integral partner in this process, and Jennifer knows the program, CIS and Kalamazoo

schools,” he says. “We wanted a local, experienced, published author, so she was an ideal fit.” The result was What Do You See in Room 21 C?, written by Clark and illustrated by

Above: The cover of the new book written by Jennifer Clark.

Leslie Helakoski, a Southwest Michigan author and illustrator. Clark says the book is “truly built by community.” Clark held several w w | 11

Profile for Encore Magazine

Encore Magazine September 2021  

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