Reading Buddies pairs adults with kids to read aloud to each other for about 10 minutes a week.
That might not seem like much time, but its one-on-one tutoring that teachers say they cant afford to do during the school day.
What these guys are doing is just invaluable, said fifth-grade teacher Charleen Hayes. Its like golden minutes.
So far, the program a joint effort between the United Way of Thurston County and the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP has placed about 50 screened and trained adults into eight South Sound schools.
Volunteers commit to spending about an hour a week at a school.
Sometimes, fifth-grader Mason Dreon, 10, gets paired up with her grandma Jean Benedict, a retired elementary school teacher of Shelton.
Sometimes, she works with other volunteers, and she said thats OK, too.
I think theyre really nice, and theyve helped me improve on my reading, Mason said. Whenever we come to a word that we dont know, they tell us what it means and how to use it in a sentence.
At Hansen, volunteers are asked to follow a specific format, which Hayes described as repeated model reading.
A student is asked to read in the brain a passage from a book.
Next the student reads it out loud. Then, the Reading Buddy goes over any words that were missed before reading the passage aloud to the student.
I try to put a little pizzazz into it, said volunteer Sally Jones, 66, a retired librarian from North Thurston High School in Lacey.
Afterward, the student reads the passage out loud one final time.
They almost always improve, Jones said.
The process is repeated for as many passages as a student can work through in 10 minutes.
The Reading Buddies at Hansen have at least one thing in common: They are all bibliophiles.
I just love reading myself, and wanted to help develop other readers, said volunteer Janice Boase of Olympia, a retired nurse.
The program was launched in January, so its still a little early to determine its effect, said fifth-grade teacher Kathy Gillespie.
But she said theyll likely see some improvements the next time they check the students reading fluency, thanks to Reading Buddies.
I think its phenomenal, Gillespie added. Its just really been a great asset to our school.
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433
Learn more: For more information on Reading Buddies, call Jennifer Thompson at 360-943-2773, ext. 21, or go to www.unitedway-thurston.org and click on Volunteer.