RACINE — United Way’s Schools of Hope initiative has successfully launched its eighth year of programming. In partnership with Racine Unified and Burlington Area school districts, local businesses and community members, Schools of Hope helps students become more confident, capable readers.
As one third -rade student in the program at Olympia Brown put it, reading is important “because you get to learn more about things and your mind grows.”
Currently, nearly 175 volunteers have committed to tutoring one hour per week at five elementary schools in Racine (Giese, Julian Thomas, Knapp, Olympia Brown and Wadewitz) and Waller Elementary in Burlington. The volunteers are a near-even split of retirees and people currently employed. The working volunteers represent 31 local employers.
This year, the program started with a kickoff at each school where participating students, teachers and tutors had the opportunity to meet and share their excitement about working together. Each student received a book to take home and read with their families.
Teachers who participate in the program report that the extra support and encouragement that the tutors provide helps the students make strides in their reading abilities as well as increasing their confidence.
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David Haselhuhn, a third-grade teacher at Wadewitz, has welcomed Schools of Hope into his classroom for all of the program’s eight years. The best thing about Schools of Hope, he said, is that “it offers the opportunity for students to improve their fluency, decoding skills, vocabulary and comprehension in a one-on-one learning setting.”
Schools of Hope students are selected by their classroom teachers and work with their tutors for 25-minute one-on-one sessions three times per week. This year, 151 students were recommended for tutoring, but there are currently 44 unfilled tutoring assignments.
Each opening represents students full of potential who could truly benefit from the support of a reading tutor — but they don’t currently have one.
“If you’re considering doing it, you should do it,” said Rosalie Schatzman, who is in her first year as a Schools of Hope tutor. “The kids are so grateful, and you get almost more out of it than the kids do.”
The time commitment to be a Schools of Hope tutor is just one hour per week. Tutoring takes place during the school day. Busy volunteers are encouraged to form a tutoring team with friends or colleagues to share a tutoring assignment. Substitute tutors are also needed and have the flexibility of committing to tutor as their schedule allows throughout the school year.
To see the current list of openings and complete an application, visit www.unitedwayracine.org/soh. For more information, contact Education Initiatives Coordinator Lori Riffer at 262-456-6468.