Jack Aronson and his wife, Annette, pose with Read 180 teacher Kyle Rowley, seated to the left of Jack, and Mabel Gray chef James Rigato, seated next to Annette, as well as Carol Jackson, the literacy program director. With them are students participating in the literacy program.

Jack Aronson and his wife, Annette, pose with Read 180 teacher Kyle Rowley, seated to the left of Jack, and Mabel Gray chef James Rigato, seated next to Annette, as well as Carol Jackson, the literacy program director. With them are students participating in the literacy program.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Donation makes Hazel Park Literacy Project possible

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published March 9, 2018

HAZEL PARK — Thanks to a generous gift from a local businessman, a reading engagement program at Hazel Park High School is taking off in a big way.

Jack and Annette Aronson, the founders of Garden Fresh Gourmet, have pledged $100,000 a year to fund the Read 180 program and related initiatives at Hazel Park High. The program launched this semester and also includes a teacher, an assistant, a fully furnished room, and an expanded book selection for the freshmen and sophomores.

“We worked very diligently with Jack’s team to develop this program for Hazel Park High,” said Amy Kruppe, superintendent of Hazel Park Public Schools. “I was fortunate, about four months ago, to have met with Jack, state Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods) and (Mabel Gray restaurant owner) James Rigato, in my office, and talk about the project. They said they wanted to expand it from Ferndale to Hazel Park High School.”

Jack and Annette Aronson first pledged $100,000 to bring the Read 180 program to Ferndale High School in the fall of 2016. Jack Aronson is an alumnus of Ferndale High who’s involved with Beyond Basics, a literacy group in Southfield.

“One of the things about Read 180 is it really targets areas of weakness,” Kruppe explained. “It’s a dynamic program for helping kids improve their reading skills. It has a high success rate of helping engage students in a short amount of time.”

At Hazel Park High, the Read 180 teacher position will be filled by Kyle Rowley, the football coach and physical education teacher, who has a literacy background. Matthew Dailey, the principal of Hazel Park High, said that Rowley will do great things.

“Kyle Rowley … is not a novice when it comes to motivating others, understanding the technical components needed to experience overall success, and supporting individuals to achieve their goals,” Dailey said. “As our high school’s varsity football coach, Kyle’s skills working with others is frequently highlighted in the sports pages. But the same skills and dispositions that make him an effective coach made him an exceptional fit for this reading program.”

The program also includes monthly guest speakers, the first of whom was Jack Aronson himself during a pizza lunch meet-and-greet at the high school March 7. The goal is to get the students excited about reading, and the Read 180 program will help them develop those skills.

Like many things, one’s reading ability improves with practice. Dailey referred to Daniel Coyle’s book “The Talent Code,” in which Coyle discusses the need to put in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in any skilled activity before one could be considered proficient.   

“The class … provides this invaluable deliberate practice,” Dailey said. “Reading is the fundamental skill needed for students to access learning in all subject areas. Through improved reading skills, students will be able to discover interests, passions and career possibilities through their development as more confident and capable readers.”

Kruppe praised Jack and Annette Aronson for affording Hazel Park High students this opportunity.

“It takes everyone to help with learning,” Kruppe said, “and I believe that’s what (Jack and Annette) are all about.”

Staff Writer Michael Koury contributed to this report.