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11-25-13: Reading mentoring program expands to serve two more schools
11-25-13: Reading mentoring program expands to serve two more schools
Posted on 11/25/2013

A reading mentoring program that pairs volunteer tutors with elementary students to help children boost their skills and confidence has expanded this year to include Pope and Waller Road elementary schools.


Both schools launched the Good Samaritan Readers mentoring program last month, joining established programs at Karshner, Stewart, and Sunrise elementary schools.


This is the eleventh year since the reading mentoring program, coordinated by Communities In Schools of Puyallup (CISP), began in the Puyallup School District.


Each student selected to participate is matched with a volunteer tutor who spends 45 minutes once a week helping with basic reading skills. Students read books and sight words aloud, practice writing skills, review classroom reading assignments, and play card or board games that focus on letters and sounds.


The program serves first graders this fall at Pope and Waller Road elementary schools, with a goal to expand in subsequent years to also serve grades two and three, said Chris Stockslager, coordinator of Good Samaritan Readers.


Tutors help students succeed


Nearly two dozen volunteer tutors from throughout the community have already committed to helping first graders boost their reading skills at Pope and Waller Road elementary schools, Stockslager said.


The tutors, ranging from young adults to senior citizens, join more than 70 other Good Samaritan Readers tutors who work with first, second, and third graders at Karshner, Stewart, and Sunrise elementary schools.Image


“I can’t imagine not being able to read — it is so important in life,” said Waller Road Elementary tutor Laurel Farley.


Farley has four grandchildren in the school district and a daughter who graduated last year from Puyallup High School.


First grader Jaimee Weber was all smiles last month after meeting Farley for the first time. The two started by tracing each other’s hands on paper, then filled in the center of the drawing with information about themselves such as family member names, hobbies, and favorite animals.


“Do I get to see you every week?” Jaimee asked excitedly as she picked out several books to read that day.


“I get to see YOU every week!” Farley responded.


At a reading table nearby, tutor David Hiegel helped first grader Trevor McBrayne sound out words in the “Turtle’s Boat” book geared for the student’s reading level. It wasn’t long before both Hiegel and Trevor were giggling over the turtle’s adventures in the colorfully illustrated story.


Hiegel, the worship arts director at High Pointe Community Church on South Hill, signed up to volunteer at Pope Elementary with fellow members of his church congregation. When he heard that Waller Road Elementary was short tutors, he agreed to help there instead.


Hiegel’s two daughters both graduated from Emerald Ridge High School, with the most recent receiving her diploma last year.


“This is my way of giving back to the community and being able to help kids who need extra help,” he said.


Good Samaritan Readers


Good Samaritan Readers is funded in part with a grant from MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital and managed by CISP in partnership with the Puyallup School District.


ImageThe school district and CISP staff have worked closely the past six months to align what is taught in the Good Samaritan Readers program with classroom reading materials that address state learning standards.


Students in the Good Samaritan Readers program are expected to bring their classroom reading assignments and homework in a folder or binder to their weekly meetings with tutors. Tutors then review the materials with their students and help them as needed.


Both Pope and Waller Road elementary schools also plan to host literacy nights three times this year and invite parents of all first-grade students at each school, including those who have children in Good Samaritan Readers.


The literacy nights, including the first one held at each school last month, are designed to help parents of all first graders learn more about the district reading curriculum, how students are tested on their reading progress, and how they can help their children learn to read at home.


Children are invited to the events and participate in activities organized by CISP student volunteers while parents meet with teachers.


“The parent turnout at the first session was wonderful,” said Jan Mauk, executive director of Communities In Schools of Puyallup. “I believe everyone walked away with valuable information and resources to help their children become better readers.”


The need to read


Research consistently shows that the reading skills a child acquires by the end of third grade are highly predictive of future academic performance, Mauk said


A recent study by the American Educational Research Association found a student who can’t read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who can read proficiently by that time.


“It’s clear that children who read at grade level by the end of third grade will have greater academic success during their remaining school years and beyond,” Mauk said.


The 45 minutes of weekly personalized tutoring can make the difference, she added, between a child who dislikes reading and struggles through a book to one who chooses to read and does so with ease.


In addition to boosting students’ literacy skills, Pope Elementary Principal Dave Sunich said the program provides students with a caring and trusted mentor.

“It gives them one more reason to feel connected to school and shows them that the community cares about their success,” Sunich said.


Waller Road Elementary Principal Rick Cox added, “These students just want to know they are doing well, and this program provides that.”


As the first Good Samaritan Readers tutoring session came to a close at Waller Road Elementary, first grader Angela Campbell placed several sparkly stickers on her reading log before getting in line to head back to class.


Tutor Jessica Willemin, a 2006 Rogers High school graduate, called after Angela and said, “I’m so proud of you! You did very well today.”