Giving Back: Learning to succeed

Photo courtesy of Read to Succeed.

Read to Succeed will hold an information session for prospective volunteers interested in learning more about the in-school literacy coaching program on Saturday, August 23. Pat Bastian, communications director, tells us more about the work of Read to Suceed volunteers.

Mountain Xpress: Tell us about Read to Succeed’s mission.
Bastian: Read to Succeed Asheville provides one-on-one literacy coaching to Asheville elementary school students, most of whom live in public housing. These students begin Kindergarten already behind their peers and below grade level. The students are referred to R2S by their teachers; many do not know the alphabet and have a limited vocabulary. The R2S mission is to help these students reach grade level proficiency in reading by the end of the 3rd grade — a critical tipping point. Students who are unable to read at grade level at this point are 4 times more likely to become high school dropouts.

What is covered at a training session?
The training sessions are intense and comprehensive. Volunteers meet 3 times each week from August 23 – September 20, learning the very specific phonics-based, multi-sensory coaching skills, based on Orton Gillingham methodology. These meetings include 3 practicum sessions, where volunteers apply the skills they have learned, working with children in a supervised, observed environment. The group is limited to 20 volunteers. There is a $25 materials fee which may be waived for qualified candidates.

What are the requirements for being a volunteer?
Our reading coaches must be highly motivated to help others and genuinely enjoy working with children. They should be flexible, and able to adjust to last-minute school schedule changes. We require a time commitment of two 45-minute coaching sessions each week during regular school hours. Volunteers must also prepare a well-organized lesson plan that follows the R2S curriculum. Coaches should also have a normal hearing range; they must be able to hear students pronounce sounds and words.

Can you share a particular success story that has come from the program?
When Chrissie joined the program in 2012 as a 1st grader she didn’t know the letters of the alphabet or the sounds they represented. She was frustrated and told her coach, “I’ll never know how to read.” This year, Chrissie completed 2nd grade and after 2 years of coaching she is an eager and confident reader. She loves the challenge of decoding unfamiliar words and is reading chapter books at her grade level.
Chrissie’s success is typical of the program: 70% of R2S students are reading sentences and passages fluently and independently by the end of 2nd grade.

For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Julie Sherman for details, 828-251-4949 or 

About Carrie Eidson
Multimedia journalist and Green Scene editor at Mountain Xpress. Part-time Twitterer @mxenv but also reachable at Follow me @carrieeidson

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