Letalien, owner of Archer Restoration, assisted the school by purchasing web-based software and supplies for the reading comprehension program, which will cost around $5,000.
The computer program, which students use during and after the school day, provides incentives for kids to reach reading goals. Jennifer Melko, vice president of Pitner’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association, said it provides benefits to students.
“For parents to be able to sit down and read with a child may be hard,” she said. “With the AR program, to be able to do it in school, it allows them to get reading they may not get.”
In some cases, the parents actually go to school and work with the students in the Accelerated Reading program.
“The parents sit there and the students take the test,” said PTSA President Shari Koch.
Koch said her own experience has shown her the value of Accelerated Reading. Her son used the program throughout elementary school, with the exception of his fourth-grade year. That also turned out to be the only year in which he didn’t get straight A’s in his classes.
“It’s critical that students at a young age develop a love for reading,” she said.
Of the 947 students at Pitner, more than 700 use Accelerated Reading, Koch said.
After the PTSA contacted him about the possibility of Accelerated Reading being canceled, Letalien said he had to take action. He has made previous donations to education, including $50,000 to help start a Ready for Work program at North Cobb High School, which allows to students to learn about construction.
“If the school is dropping a program and the kids are doing well with it, if it goes by the wayside, it’s going to be a loss,” he said. “The ones who were brought up reading, they seem to be better employees and have a better grasp.”
Letalien said the Accelerated Reading program allows students to think lessons through, something they can’t always do.
“It’s becoming a lost art,” he said.
Letalien also made a donation that will keep Pitner’s Fall Festival afloat. The event, which Melko said is the school’s largest fundraiser, takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 20 at Pitner, 4575 Wade Green Road. The festival will include a hayride to shuttle attendees from the parking lot at Wildwood Church, as well as carnival games, pony rides, a rock wall and a bounce house.