Letter writer: Augustine Project also helps young readers

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Pat Bastian’s Jan. 11 [Xpress] article “Closing Asheville’s Achievement Gap” discussed the importance of children’s ability to read and how those who come from low-income/poverty environments and are already behind grade level can fall through the cracks.

We are fortunate in Asheville to have two outstanding programs addressing this issue: The Augustine Project (part of the Literacy Council) and Read to Succeed. While both these programs target children below grade level in reading, the Augustine Project is able to qualify a larger group of children to receive its services.

Unlike Read to Succeed, Augustine Project works with children in grades K-12, children who are not native English speakers, and children with IEPs and 504 plans. In addition, Augustine works with children throughout Buncombe County — whether in county, city or charter schools. And it has on occasion worked with students who are being home-schooled. It is my understanding that to qualify for Read to Succeed, the child must reside in one of the housing projects. I have served as an Augustine tutor for the past three years, and each of my students lived in povert­y/low-income homes but not in the housing projects.

Both programs provide outstanding training to their tutors. Read to Succeed requires a three-year commitment and tutors go through a three-month, 40-hour training; Augustine requires a one-year commitment, and tutors receive an intensive two-week 60-hour training.

As an Augustine tutor, I believe, that were Read to Succeed and Augustine Project to collaborate with one another they would be able to better serve the children/families in our community. A couple of ideas for collaboration include providing collaborative trainings throughout the year for tutors — Read to Succeed referring students to Augustine who reach grade four and still require additional tutoring, or referring students who do not fall within Read to Succeed’s requirements but who may still qualify for the Augustine Project.

But all in all, what is most important is how fortunate we are to have both these outstanding programs in our community. Should anyone be interested in exploring tutoring through the Augustine Project, they can contact Lily Contour, director of The Augustine Project, at the Literacy Council at Lily@litcouncil.com or 828-254-3442.

— Blair Fielding


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