Twenty-three professional women are taking time out of their busy schedules each week to help Gardiner Elementary third-grade students improve their reading skills. Members of United Way’s Women’s United, The Pando Initiative and First Wesleyan Church volunteer their time to work one-on-one with students to help them become better readers and to also be role models.
The volunteer program began as part of United Way’s Women United “Read to Succeed” program. The group’s focus this year is early childhood literacy. Studies have shown that having a student read at grade level by the end of third grade has a great impact on a student’s success in school and in life. Once the United Way’s Women United program began, other community groups joined the program.
The volunteers received specialized training from Gardiner staff on what to look for when a student reads aloud to them.
“They are not just listening to them read, they are listening to identify specific items where a child has deficits and coaches them so we can give them the proper support to succeed,” said Gardiner principal Heather Schwartz.
“We can see that it’s making a difference. Our students’ reading scores are going up,” Schwartz said. “We cannot express how much we appreciate their efforts.”