Reading Champions program wraps up successful fifth year

Front row, from left, Brian Nova, Franklin Sousa, Mia Maignan, John Castaneda, Brianna Rodney, Hailey Villanueva. In the second row, from left, Isaiah Dumeny, Kaden Camano (in white tank top), Isaac Dumeny, Esmerelda Aguilar, Valeria Alvarez, Leroy Obaanda, Marisol Flores (in white tank top). In the third row, from left, Ronnie Staplefield, Stephanie O’Donnell, Barbara Norrgard, Sylvia Gordan, Samantha Castaneda, Patricia Santonocito, Alyssa Nova (in butterfly shirt), Joan Lowe, Coordinator and Janet Mackenzie.

Front row, from left, Brian Nova, Franklin Sousa, Mia Maignan, John Castaneda, Brianna Rodney, Hailey Villanueva. In the second row, from left, Isaiah Dumeny, Kaden Camano (in white tank top), Isaac Dumeny, Esmerelda Aguilar, Valeria Alvarez, Leroy Obaanda, Marisol Flores (in white tank top). In the third row, from left, Ronnie Staplefield, Stephanie O’Donnell, Barbara Norrgard, Sylvia Gordan, Samantha Castaneda, Patricia Santonocito, Alyssa Nova (in butterfly shirt), Joan Lowe, Coordinator and Janet Mackenzie.

Greenwich United Way’s Reading Champions is wrapping up its fifth year with recognition events at many of its 14 sites.

Reading Champion tutors are all volunteers who work individually with students each week, helping them develop, improve and perfect their reading skills. They focus on fluency, reading comprehension and word use.

Established as a small pilot program, Reading Champions is now operating at 11 elementary schools, the Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center (BANC), Community Centers, Inc. and the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. In total this year, 104 trained tutors worked with more than 300 children. Many of the tutors have been involved from the start and have worked with the same child for several years.

“We’ve been able to observe substantial progress. With the extra help they are getting, they have mastered their fry words,” said BANC program coordinator Christina Nappi.

The Public Schools reading specialists report a 97% success rate of children completing the year of tutoring and meeting reading proficiency goals.

The United Way Youth Services Council and the Greenwich Rotary Club were Reading Champions sponsors this year. Community partners include the Department of Social Services, Greenwich Public Schools, Greenwich United Way, and the Boys & Girls Club.

Describing how Reading Champions came to be, United Way Vice Chair of Community Services Laura Geffs said, “The educational achievement gap has long been a documented community concern. When citizens presented the idea of one-on-one assistance with trained tutors, the United Way backed it with resources and volunteers. It’s been wonderful to watch it grow. As a United Way Board member, I am proud of its success. As a volunteer tutor, I experience the school faculty’s welcome, the smile of accomplishment on the student’s face, and the genuine feeling of making a difference. This hour of commitment is the highlight of my week.”

Tutors will be needed at all sites this fall. The training is conducted by school literacy specialists.

For an application and further information, visit unitedway-greenwich.com or contact Jenny Bxybee, Greenwich Youth Services coordinator at [email protected], 203-869-2221.

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