YMCA READS! Standing in the Gap to Help Struggling Readers!

Volunteers help students improve with YMCA READS!

With a common verbal cue teachers often use to get their students’ attention, Lauren Sima tells those in her YMCA Reads class it’s time to listen and get to work to improve their reading skills.

“Bubble in your mouth,” she says.

As the site coordinator for YMCA Reads at Ruediger Elementary School, Sima understands the enormity of the job because her students are in the bottom quartile of reading.

YMCA Reads is a volunteer-driven program that uses a prescribed curriculum to provide free tutoring to students who are not proficient in reading. Students in grades 1-3 are referred by their teacher and attend after school Monday through Thursday.

YMCA Reads, which has been around for 10 years, has been implemented at 39 sites sponsored by 14 YMCA associations in the state. The program at Ruediger is the first site for Tallahassee and is sponsored by Capital Region YMCA and grant funded by the Department of Education.

“For our YMCA to be engaged in such a life-changing effort with students at Ruediger fulfills our promise to support activities that promote youth development, social responsibility and crucial outreach to our community,” CEO Ray Purvis said.

Sima uses her background in elementary education and six years of experience in the classroom to plan individualized lessons for her students to target their reading needs. Her mentors are trained in delivering the lessons as well and work patiently with students to help them gain confidence in reading.

“We are proud of all our students,” Sima said. “We have had such a positive reaction from one child in particular who has struggled behaviorally and academically in school. We encourage him and give feedback on how he’s growing in reading to show that he is capable of great things. His demeanor towards the mentors is positive and respectful. He was even upset when we had to cancel the program for two days. He is now attending our summer session.”

“We are delighted to be piloting YMCA Reads at Ruediger, especially since it supports our commitment to making sure our youngest children learn to read proficiently by the time they finish second grade,” Ruediger principal Sally Stephens added. “Participating students receive an extra six hours of support every week through intensive reading intervention systems. In August, we hope to pick up where we left off and implement the program for the entire 2015-2016 school year. YMCA Reads remains a top priority.”

For more information about YMCA Reads go to http://www.ymcareads.com or like us on Facebook.

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