United Way tutoring program expands into summer school this year

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By Dori Jury - United Way of Portage County 2014 Campaign Co-Chair and Learn for Life tutor

One of the many reasons my husband, John, and I agreed to serve as the United Way of Portage County 2014 Campaign Chairs is because we see the value of “Living United.” One of the ways I choose to “Live United” is by volunteering as a tutor for United Way’s Learn for Life Reading Program, which is expanding into summer school this year.

More tutors will be needed for the expansion, so I’m asking those who are willing to commit one hour per week to making a big difference in a child’s life to consider becoming a volunteer. It’s easy, fun, and very rewarding. This includes high school and college students who are looking for volunteer opportunities during the summer.

In the summer school program, Learn for Life will focus on sustaining reading levels throughout the summer. On average, students will lose two to three levels of reading if they are not reading at home in the summer, which is the expected growth for a student in one year. If they continue to fall behind, they could be behind by multiple grade levels.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, summer reading loss is cumulative. Children don’t ‘catch up’ in fall because the other children are moving ahead with their skills. By the end of sixth grade children who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates.

Tutoring will take place during a six-week period from June 16 through July 24 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Madison Elementary School on Tuesdays, Jefferson Elementary School on Wednesdays and McKinley Elementary School on Thursdays.

Tutoring is one hour per week on the same day, at the same time and location, and with the same students throughout the six weeks.

United Way’s Learn for Life Reading Program has been running in Portage County Schools for the last four school years. Just this academic school year, the program expanded into six additional schools, totaling 11 schools that the program utilizes trained volunteer tutors to work with third-grade students who are in need of additional help with their reading skills. With more tutors, the program may be able to expand to second-grade classrooms in the future.

I really believe Learn for Life is a perfect way to reach students who need additional reading support. The one-on-one help is the key, as every child loves attention.

Personally, as a retired teacher, I love tutoring because I enjoy the school atmosphere and energy, the student contact, and the fun of working with the students. It is great to see the students’ positive responses to the activities being used in the tutoring program.

To learn more about becoming a tutor, call 715-341-6740, email uway@unitedwaypoco.org, or visit www.unitedwaypoco.org or www.volunteersrock.org.