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Lamar students rewarded for reading with flight - KOAM TV 7

Lamar students rewarded for reading with flight

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Some middle school students in Lamar, Missouri are given what they were promised for reading 20 books recommended by parents and school teachers across the state.

The middle school's librarian, Julie Yockey, along with four airplane pilots take them on rides they will never forget for a program called "Reading on the Fly".

"Oh, you just get all kinds of things - 'oh, look how small that is, they look like ants,' and they are cows, tou always get that type of thing," says pilot Tom Richards.

He says the experience never gets old.

Thirteen years ago Richards retired from teaching math to middle school students in Lamar.  But for the past 25 years he's been flying kids in the air for free.

"Both teaching and flying, and I get to combine them - the best of both worlds," Richards says.

Students who read at least 20 books in Missouri's Mark Twain Reading Program get rewarded with the flight.

"It's a good incentive, says Richards.

Wednesday was a busy day for the pilots.  Forty-five students are taken up and down from the sky three at a time in four different planes.  The whole process lasts about two hours.

Each pilot pays for at least $200 worth of fuel for the day.

But they don't consider it a cost - they consider it an investment.

"If you can read, you can do math, or anything else you want to do," says Richards.  "Including being a pilot."

Yockey, the Lamar Middle School librarian, recently won Missouri's "Progressive School Librarian of the Year" award for her efforts to motivate kids to read.

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