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Reading Warriors Celebrates Successful Year of Tutoring and Mentorship

Paula Wilkins SpeakingMay 22, 2024 – Reading Warriors closed out another successful year of tutoring and mentorship on Wednesday morning with their End of Year Volunteer Celebration.

Reading Warriors began three years ago as part of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ 90 by 25 literacy initiative. In order to give kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders who struggle with reading the extra attention they need to keep up with their peers, volunteers go into schools twice a week to read books and work on spelling and phonics lessons with a single child who they visit consistently throughout the year. That little bit of individualized assistance can make a world of difference in giving WS/FCS students a strong foundation for one of the most fundamental skills they’ll ever learn.

Books“One of the best gifts we can give a child is to teach them to read, because it opens up so many doors,” said Superintendent Tricia McManus. “You’re building their confidence, you’re building their love of learning, and you’re making them realize how important they are.”

Just as important as the tutoring side of the equation is the cultural side. Reading Warriors provides students who are experiencing a frustrating start in their academic career with an extra adult in the building who is invested in their long-term success, and that investment shows up in their smiling faces when it’s time for another session. Students in Reading Warriors read new books, pick up new strategies to break down complex words, and have extra opportunities to practice in a low-pressure setting. Perhaps best of all, they’re part of a special program that makes reading more exciting, and they carry their newfound enthusiasm back into the classroom when a session is finished.

Undrae Hayes“The work is more than teaching a child how to read,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Paula Wilkins. “You may think that you’re just tutoring one child, but you are making ripple effects in our district.”

During the celebration, volunteers enjoyed a light breakfast together, reflected on stories of time spent with their students, and shared their ideas on what worked best about Reading Warriors this year, as well as what could be improved in the future. One thing that almost everyone could agree on was that it felt good to see their students become stronger readers over the course of the school year. Whether they’re WS/FCS employees, family members, or concerned citizens, all of these volunteers got involved because they wanted to be part of the enrichment of the district’s students, and they certainly got their wish.

Group Shot“The motto here is all about teaching a kid to read and helping to change a life, but seriously, I’d say he changed mine,” said Reading Warrior Undrae Hayes of his experience with his student.

It was a year of growth for Reading Warriors, with Wilkins happy to see dozens of volunteers represented at the celebration. However, there are hundreds more students who need support, and there still will be even after the 90 by 25 initiative comes to an end. When volunteer spots open up for next year’s program, administrators hope that the entire WS/FCS community will remember just how much of an impact they have the opportunity to make.

“I promise each and every one of you, even those of you who had difficulties or who felt like you didn’t really connect, that child will remember you for the rest of their lives,” said Reading Warriors Trainer Beth Hale. “You cared for them. That was all it took.”

Jake Browning
jbrowning2@wsfcs.k12.nc.us
(336) 727-8213 Ext. 70545