Kathy Wylie got involved with the One To One program when her own children were in school and has also worked with the Mother Goose program and Boys and Girls Club early learning programs, as well as One To One volunteer training. Now she’s back with One To One as coordinator at Silver Star elementary school.
“I love being involved with the children and the volunteers and the teachers and hearing the success stories,” she said.
There are many success stories as the reluctant readers, who do not receive other specialized reading help from school district staff, spend time reading with a trained volunteer to help them gain reading confidence and fluency.
“We have many committed volunteer tutors and they change students’ lives. They do not have to have a teaching background, just a love of reading and a desire to pass that on to children. We welcome women and men volunteers,” said Kirsti Kirkness, district co-ordinator for the One To One program. She noted that some businesses, including VantageOne Credit Union and RBC, give employees time during work hours to do the training and volunteer as a contribution to the community.
Steve Wilson, resource teacher for Silver Star school, said the volunteer tutors play a vital role in helping children when the teachers do not have time for individual work with each student.
“I think it’s critical for the students and helpful for the parents,” he said. “I want to thank the volunteers. The kids really like coming out to One To One.”
The One To One literacy program was developed in 1989 by learning assistance teachers in Vancouver with volunteers from the Junior League of Greater Vancouver. It started in Vernon in 1996 with funding from the Kalamalka Rotary Club and is now in every elementary school in the district.
There are more than 200 volunteers but there is always a need for more to cover people moving, taking holidays or taking time off for illness. The time commitment is one and a half hours one morning or afternoon a week for 12-week sessions fall and winter. The training is three hours, offered in October and January. The next training sessions are Sept. 29, or Oct. 3 or 4, from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, contact Kirkness at 250-540-1159 or firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.junctionliteracy.ca.