The school bell is about to ring and United Way’s Reading Buddy program is ready to go – Back to School!
Now in its fourth year, the program, places Reading Buddy volunteers with elementary school students who need extra reading practice. Our local schools welcome community engagement. Last school year, we placed 125 Reading Buddies in 8 districts, 24 schools in 3 counties. But we need more!
Common Core State Standards, adopted by 45 states nationwide, and phased in over the last several years in Washington State, was fully implemented in Language Arts and Math and the first full year of Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) testing is in the books! It is known that Common Core levels the student playing field. Using this approach standardizes Year End Proficiencies that each student must achieve per grade level whether you live in Arkansas or Washington. The SBA testing emphasizes real life demonstration and application of concept proficiencies in Language Arts and Math. The goal is to align our students with learning aptitudes and principles in place around the globe. The overarching goal is that the new learning standards will better prepare students when leaving high school, to compete for college and the job market in a global economy.
Our schools worried that with new testing there may have been a back slide with test scores. But the first round of testing beat predictions with higher than expected numbers. While our schools are working very hard, adopting new programs to aid more students to reach graduation, they still need community volunteer help.
Reading Buddies can help our schools and students Close the Achievement Gap. Their one on one and small group tutoring aligns with supporting their goals. When students read at grade level by 3rd grade, they are 4 times more likely to graduate on time.
Once strictly a part of the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program sponsored by United Way of Thurston County, college students and working adults are getting involved. Businesses such as Anchor Bank, Townsend Security, WSECU and Umpqua Bank provide their employees paid time off to serve their community. Amber Mark, Branch Manager at Anchor Bank in Lewis County, is a Reading Buddy. Amber meets with her students once a week. She enjoys seeing them build reading confidence and building confidence.
Being a Reading Buddy is a simple way to serve while making a great impact. Another reading buddy shared, “We all think someone else will take care of our communities problems, but who is that someone else? It’s us, it’s all of us.” About an hour a week during the school year is all it takes. Please join us at our upcoming orientations to learn more about this viable cause. You too can make a difference.
September orientation dates are set in Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties. We aim for a start date of October 1st after teachers have completed student assessments. For more information, call Jennifer Thompson, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Coordinator serving Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties at 360-943-2773, ext. 21 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.