Mar 27, 2015
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We told you last week about an impressive literacy program at North Richmond’s Verde Elementary School called “Real Men Read,” which has men from the community volunteering their time every month to read to students.

The idea is to inspire learning through positive male role models in the community.

On Friday morning, about a dozen men from the community showed up to read to students. We were invited to sit in on one of the readings, which was held by volunteer Terence Elliott, a veteran professor at Diablo Valley College who grew up in Parchester Village (see video below).

Elliott, who teaches humanities and music at DVC and is a former dean at Contra Costa College, read works from poets including Langston Hughes. He also taught kids a few terms in Swahili, and at one point had students beat on a drum as he read the poem “Drums” by Hughes, which created a powerful effect (see video below).

Real Men Read is one of several steps that are being taken by the school and community partners to improve student performance at Verde. At the start of the school year, testing revealed that Verde students were two to three years behind in their grade level reading skills, according to officials.

Read more about the program and others that are helping to boost literacy at the school here.

The group meets to read at the school monthly, but with the program’s continued success it is possible that readings will occur bi-monthly. Men in the community who are interested in taking part are encouraged to contact Cassandry Keys at or (251) 689-7969.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.