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Volunteering to help a child learn the joy of reading

GFWC Heeko volunteer Barbara Strahm is listening to one of Stephanie Jensen’s 6th grade students read as part of the RTI volunteer reading program at the Pawhuska Elementary School. KATHRYN SWAN/J-C CORRESPONDENT
GFWC Heeko volunteer Barbara Strahm is listening to one of Stephanie Jensen’s 6th grade students read as part of the RTI volunteer reading program at the Pawhuska Elementary School. KATHRYN SWAN/J-C CORRESPONDENT

Since its inception over 102 years ago, Pawhuska’s GFWC Heeko Club members have endeavored to strengthen their community and enhance the lives of others through their volunteer service.

Several of their ongoing projects include literacy and the Pawhuska schools. With the onset of the new school year, several GFWC Heeko women have committed to helping children develop strong reading skills. They are continuing an effort initiated five years ago when community volunteers gave up their noon hour to listen to children read. The program follows the RTI model which refers to Reading To Intervention.

GFWC Heeko spokesperson Barbara Straham said, “We are striving to promote a life-long love of reading. As volunteers, we hope to help the teachers as coaches with one-on-one interaction with the students.”

Last Thursday, Strahm and I listened to several students in Stephanie Jensen’s 6th grade class read short stories in a cold and hot format. For one minute, a student reads a passage. This is referred to a cold read. As the volunteer follows along with her copy of the story, she circles any mispronounced words and counts the number of words read. These words are discussed with the student and, in some cases, the meaning is explained. Then, the student reads the passage a second time for a hot read. Often the student correctly identifies the previously mispronounced words and expands the number of words read during that brief exercise.

Since this was my first day to work with the children, I observed Mrs. Strahm as she worked with her first RTI student. I was very impressed with all three of our students and how well each child handled their reading assignments. The students were very respectful and appreciative of our intervention. Their actions and eagerness to embrace their reading challenges reinforced how much I want to be a part of this exciting program.

Volunteer opportunities are available for the RTI volunteer reading program. Sessions are held shortly after classes convene and last approximately 15 minutes. Program evaluation and test scores confirm the significant impact volunteers have on a child’s reading progress. Proficient reading opens up a world of opportunities for these young students for their future. It is a foundation for success.

Anyone interested in learning more about the RTI volunteer reading program is asked to call Gerry Craun at 918-287-1265, ext. 5329, or Barbara Strahm at 918-287-3109.

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