Literacy Connects seeks volunteer readers for K-3 students
Literacy Connects is calling for 300 volunteers as a part of the nonprofit group's push to expand its Reading Seed program, which helps struggling readers in grades K-3 catch up to their classmates.
"Achieving 100 percent literacy in Tucson is the goal, and we cannot get there without volunteers," said Mayor Rothschild in a statement supporting the effort last week.
Betty Stauffer, the group's executive director, agrees with Rothschild that volunteers are vital to literacy efforts.
"We train them. The volunteers are the ones who deliver the programs," she said in an interview.
There is an urgent need for literacy volunteers before the start of the new school year in August, the group said.
As a part of the Reading Seed program, reading coaches are asked to meet weekly with at least two students for a 1/2 hour each during the school year.
"What these volunteers are able to do is provide one-on-one help, which is something that a teacher with 25 or more students in the classroom may not be able to do," Stauffer said.
The focus of the program is first through third grades because that's when students are learning to read. From the fourth grade on, students are reading to learn specific information such as science or history. Students who don't read well by then fall behind in school quickly, Stuaffer said.
Nationally, more than 40 percent of fourth-grade students do not read proficiently, but in some Pima County schools that number is almost 60 percent, according to Literacy Connect's website.
"This time of year it's critical to get [volunteers] trained, fingerprinted and ready to start up in the fall," Stauffer said.
Volunteers who live in or are willing to travel to South Side locations are especially needed to work in the Sunnyside and Tucson Unified school districts
Last year, with Rothschild's help, Literacy Connects recruited 500 volunteer reading coaches for Reading Seed. That tripled the number of people working in the program from the previous year.
The program was able to serve more than 1,700 students in eight Pima County school districts during the 2013-2014 school year, up 1300 from the previous year.
To volunteer or get more information visit literacyconnects.org or call 882-8006.