Lead to Read allows volunteers to help children learn to read
By Sue Loudon
Would you be willing to transform a child’s life by volunteering 30 minutes a week?
That’s the commitment requested to be a Lead to Read volunteer. This program connects trusted adults with children at local schools in grades 1 to 4. Adults listen to children read and help them with unfamiliar words, or if English is their second language, the adults may need to do most of the reading and point out the words.
The teacher chooses several books for the student-adult pairs to work with on a scale of increasing difficulty. Sometimes the kids don’t like the story and prefer another book. At other times they love the story and want to keep reading the same book. It’s interesting that one-half hour from noon to 12:30 or 12:30 to 1 p.m. seems like a short time to build a relationship, but it happens quickly.
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt did a story on Lead to Read in Kansas City. It featured Captain Darren Ivey of the Kansas City Police Department, who has been a volunteer and now also does a class for adult reader training. Volunteers must pass a background check before they come into the classroom. There are 17 schools in the area served by Lead to Read, including two in the Center School District: Boone Elementary and Indian Creek Elementary. The program would like to expand to other schools, but there are not enough volunteers.
More than 100 readers at Boone Elementary are volunteers from Burns & McDonnell, which awarded $7,500 to Lead to Read in 2018. According to one Burns & Mac employee, Dennis Murray, “The best thing is seeing the progress my first grade students make by the end of the school year.”
Robin Hartmann is the Lead to Read recruiter for Kingswood Senior Living Retirement Center. She provides a busload of retired teachers for Indian Creek Elementary.
Center Elementary at 8401 Euclid Ave. would like to have the program, but they need volunteers. A corporate or group sponsor would be helpful. For more information contact Pauly Hart, executive director, Lead to Read KC, 913-544-8873 or leadtoreadkc.org.