Education Connection reading program wraps up second year
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
There’s a special connection between adult and child when reading together. That connection can be taken to another level when used in an educational setting.
Liberty Hill ISD has just concluded its second year as a partner with Education Connection, a regional program that helps match adult volunteers with students to promote reading.
“It is really important because often times kids don’t get that extra support elsewhere,” said Amy Hagen, executive director of Education Connection. “The school identifies those students who need the extra support – either they’re below reading level and might not necessarily qualify for any school-based interventions, or students on the other side who may be amazing readers, but just need that opportunity to read with an adult.”
This year, on Liberty Hill’s three elementary campuses, 18 volunteers read with 50 children. It was the second year for Liberty Hill Elementary and the first for Rancho Sienna and Bill Burden.
The simplicity of the program is why it works so well for student and volunteer, organizers say.
“From a volunteer’s perspective it is just a great way to volunteer and serve at a local school,” Hagen said. “There is a volunteer matched with two students at the elementary level. That adult is just reading with that student and the student reading back to them. Students read from a book from class, and the volunteer reads to the student from a book of interest to the student.”
Each volunteer will read to two different students, for 15 minutes each per week from October to May. Feedback from the schools as well as student test performance tell Hagen the program is working.
“We hear from teachers and schools that the program improves students competency in reading dramatically,” she said. “Traditionally they do see improvements that resonate within the assessments from students who receive this kind of support.”
Students are not the only ones who benefit from the program, though.
“(Volunteers) report back how blessed they were and how honored they were for the opportunity because they felt humbled in working with the students, getting to watch their confidence grow in that short period of time,” Hagen said.
The schools also benefit from the donation of time and energy.
“They appreciate that community support and the volunteers being willing to serve in their district,” Hagen said. “A lot of times a teacher isn’t able to give that particular attention because they’re filled up with dealing with the whole classroom.”
Hagen said they can never have enough volunteers. Registration for next year will not begin until July, but those interested can visit the website now, www.education-connection.org, and click on the pre-registration button to get on the list. Volunteers will be notified when registration opens in July. Volunteers will also be subject to the school district’s background screen.