Reading and Mentoring Program
This one-on-one reading and mentoring program targets students in grades K-4 who are attending an elementary school located in an impoverished neighborhood. Each student is paired with an adult volunteer. The student and mentor meet 30-60 minutes each week for 6-8 week sessions (during the school day) throughout the school year. Our dedicated volunteers return year after year. Our retention rate is over 95%! All adult mentors have received appropriate clearances which are maintained in our files at Church Union.
Each reader is usually able to read with two students during this time.“We really get to know the kids and enjoy building those relationships with the help of the school staff,” says Maria Wesley, a Church Union Board member who holds a degree in education, of her three years in the program.
Friendships, imaginations, reading levels and school spirit are built up as pages turn and lives are changed. The program also provided some impetus to staff and community participation in a book drive to stock the school’s empty library shelves.
“We have students coming to us and asking, ‘Is my reader here yet? or Is my reader coming today?’ They want to be in school for this program and are excited to have the personal attention.”
- Ms. Cherry, Teacher
The students are chosen in conjunction with the Administration’s recommendation. Where possible, we try to read with the entire grade during the course of the school year.
The mentor pool is comprised of adult volunteers. These volunteers are screened in accordance with school policies. Ideally, the mentors would commit to participating in the program throughout the entire school year.
Reading results from our flagship school, Manchester Elementary, have been astounding. Between 2010 and 2014, the Manchester elementary Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) reading scores for grades 3 to 5 have increased 7-12%. In comparison, the District and the State reading scores for comparable grades actually decreased by 2-9%. The former Manchester Principal believes that our program is part of the reason for the increase in reading ability. The school also saw increased attendance for students involved in the program on the day they met with their mentor.
“One boy was really not happy to participate. He would listen but put his head down. Now he is excited to read together. To see him each time over the three year’s time and to see how he has grown–good stuff!”
- Volunteer from Dutilh UM Church, Cranberry Twp., PA