Local students get one-on-one help

Students get help from CBAL.

  • Oct. 4, 2011 1:00 p.m.

Jessica Schwitek


School has been back in session for a month now, and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy wants to make sure kids start off on the right foot.

The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL), has been partnering with schools in Golden for about seven years to implement the One to One children’s reading program. The program facilitates volunteer tutors who read with students from Grades one to six to build their confidence and improve their reading skills.

“You kind of form a relationship with these students,” said longtime volunteer, and school board trustee Rhonda Smith. “And they just thrive when they get this special attention.”

Last year, 30 volunteers dedicated an hour to an hour and a half a week to read with over 60 students at Alexander Park Elementary, Lady Grey Elementary and Nicholson Elementary schools. The feedback from students, parents and teachers was very positive said Golden community literacy co-ordinator for CBAL Monica De.

Smith, who volunteers for an hour, once a week, tutors two students for half an hour each. She spends the time listening to the children read, and offering tips and modifications. Students who are not classified special needs, but still need some extra help, says Smith, tend to fall through the cracks.

“There’s no extra funding for those kids. That’s why programs like this are so important,” she said.

“A child who has problems with reading loses their self-confidence,” says volunteer, and former Ontario teacher, Lynda Seeney. “It makes an impact all the way across the curriculum.”

Students who may need additional help with their reading skills are identified by their teachers, who then talk to the parents about the possibility of participating in this program. All volunteers receive a modest training, and are then assigned students to read with. But like Smith, Seeney believes it is really the individual attention that seems to make the biggest difference.

“The students are actually very comfortable. They enjoy having your full attention. Especially the older students who have done it before, they come into it with a sense of comfort.”

This is, however, a volunteer program, and without volunteers it won’t be able to keep running. “I just take an early lunch and go out and help.” said Smith. “I really encourage volunteers to give it a try. It is such a fulfilling and worth while program to get involved in.”

This year, One to One will continue to run at all three schools for a fall, winter and spring session. The first session will start on Oct. 17 and end on Dec. 2. People who are interested in volunteering can call one of the schools or Monica De, community literacy co-ordinator, at 250-439-9665.