Reading University



Media Release


2020 Reading University Kicks Off July 6th in Grande Prairie at St. John Paul ll School

Record Numbers Mark the 12th Anniversary Session

Summer officially begins for thousands of school-aged across the region on the last school day of the year...YAY!!  A select group of grade three students will arrive at St. John Paul ll School  July 6th to participate in what will arguably be a game-changing experience in their academic journey.

Since its inception in Grande Prairie, Reading University has shown steady growth from the 32 children that attended in 2009 to the close to 200 students who will skip through the doors July 6th.

“At the grassroots of this organization lies the commitment that those students that are nominated and in need of this program will not be denied access.  We stand by that commitment wholeheartedly,” says Grade Three Reading University co-founder, Linda Side. “This is a critical turning point in the life of a child where they cross from learning to read, to reading to learn. The program is designed to give those kids in the Grande Prairie area not yet reading at grade level the leg up they need to succeed.”

The intense, three-week program takes the students through literacy centers designed to achieve success with their “dream team” of educators. “The secret sauce is our student-teacher ratio -  2 teachers for every 10 children -  our incredible leadership under co-principals Helen Neufeld and Dana Heidemann, and unique strategies that are not always feasible to implement in the parameters of a typical classroom environment.  "We will use creative play, music, physical activity, and reading approaches that inspire the children in ways that they may not have experienced to date,” comments co-founder Rhonda Side.

This marks the 12th Anniversary of Reading University and the program’s third class will be graduating from high school this year. In honor of the occasion, on July 24th when the current  students graduate two post-secondary scholarships will be awarded to students who attended the 2011 RU class.

“What is most meaningful to us is that had these kids not participated in the program, they may not have completed high school, let alone contemplated post-secondary.

Reading University comes at no cost to the participating families. And, with increased numbers, the costs naturally rise for the organization. “We go out with our hat in hand in efforts to raise awareness and funding for the kids,” says Linda Side, “and we are extremely grateful to the community groups, businesses, and families that continue to support this program.”

 A September 10th date has been set for the Reading University Annual Hole in One Golf Tournament at the Dunes, the primary fundraiser for the group where all funds are directed to Reading U. If you believe in the value of reading  and want to be involved in this unique initiative, you can register to sponsor and play in the RU tournament at