Washington School District Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer recently met with her community advisory team to work on the mission, vision and goals of a new volunteer program aimed at improving students’ reading skills.
“We are trying to develop a program that utilizes volunteers who are trained in various reading strategies,” VanLeer said. “Volunteers would work with teachers, providing another layer of intervention in kindergarten through third grade.”
The plan is to expand this concept into other areas in the future, she added.
“But for now we are going to start small,” she said.
VanLeer said the advisory team is currently developing a logo and working through the logistics of how the intervention program will operate.
“The team brainstormed on names for the program and the group overwhelming liked “Shine by 9,” she said. “Logo ideas will be given to the graphic arts department at the Four Rivers Career Center for a mockup. Then, the artwork will come back to the team.”
VanLeer said the meeting began with an activity that required members to think about what an ideal program looks like — both from a student perspective as well as from an adult perspective for the volunteers and the school staff.
For the student, members said the goal is to raise academic proficiency and confidence while promoting collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity.
Developing trusting working relationships between students and adults also is a must, members said.
Another goal is to establish a love of literature and books/reading among the students.
For the adults participating, consistent training and materials will be needed, as well as a commitment to the program and the students.
The volunteers would serve an extension to the learning in the classroom, members said, creating a village of caring adults.
Community advisory team members suggested surveying teachers to see where they need the volunteer help, and if there is a need in other subject areas as well.
Potential volunteers also could be surveyed to match skills to area of need.
The team will meet again Wednesday, Jan. 15, to continue its planning.
VanLeer said the advisory team is another way for the district to keep the lines of communication open. The community team is open to parents, business leaders and patrons.
New committee members are always welcome, said VanLeer, who encourages anyone interested to attend the next meeting or call the administration office.