Local Student Tries Harder In School Thanks To Volunteer

With the help from our community partners, United Way has identified 250 volunteer opportunities related to reading, tutoring and mentoring that support children and youth in east central Iowa.

United Way of East Central Iowa held a Volunteer Information Breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30 am on Thursday, September 20, 2012 at the Human Services Campus (317 7th Ave SE).  We heard from Jon Bancks and  Jim Green and others who told us how volunteering impacts their lives.  This meeting also featured representatives from several schools and organizations who are in need of volunteers.  Attendees heard how they can help children in our area and learned about the opportunities that are available.

To sign up to volunteer and help our children through reading, tutoring and mentoring –  click here

Video not playing? Try the transcript below. 

Steve Carpenter, Volunteer Big Brothers Big Sisters

Steve Carpenter: I got involved with Jeremy as a Lunch Buddy, first of all, back in Polk about four years ago.  And then we decided to get what’s called a community match, community-based match.  We’ve been hanging out doing stuff every week or two for about three years now.

Jeremy:  At first I wasn’t a good student.  Steve helped me realize that I can get somewhere in life if I am so I try as hard as I can now in school.  At first I used to blow it off and then he helped me.

Without strong reading skills, students fall behind, disengage and often drop out of school.  United Way Worldwide has set a challenge to help cut the high school dropout number in half by 2018.  Source: Education Volunteer Call to Action, United Way Worldwide.

Steve Carpenter:  I’ve found a lot of joy in just showing him how you can learn something all the time just by asking questions and I can tell you one of the good things I’ve felt in the last year or a little more is how Jeremy is starting to ask deeper and better and more questions just about everything.  We will end up at a place like the library; we’ll ask a question as we’re just driving to grab a burger or something and I’ll say, “That’s a great question.  Let’s go look that up.”

In 2011, nearly 1 out of 4 (23.68%) 4th graders in the Cedar Rapids Community School District are NOT proficient in reading. In one year the number of 4th graders who struggle with reading jumped 9.16% to nearly 1 out of 3 (32.84%). Source: 2011 & 2012 Iowa Department of Education.


Marcia Hughes, Cedar Rapids Schools, Community Relations Supervisor:  The school district utilizes volunteers for a variety of reasons, but one of our most specific areas is reading and literacy support.  We have over 7,000 registered volunteers in the Cedar Rapids School District and many of those work with students on their reading skills.

Molly Hardinger, Volunteer Reader:  I know that reading helped me get through high school and college.  It’s a foundation for any other classes you might take when you’re older, so I feel it’s important to work with kids on reading.

Reading is linked to high school success.  For the first few years of school, children are learning to read.  But after fourth grade, they’re reading to learn.  Source: Education Volunteer Call to Action, United Way Worldwide.

Marcia Hughes:  The opportunity to have volunteers in the classroom helps our teachers to be able to focus on their job so we certainly rely on volunteers to provide that extra set of hands and that extra help, but having another adult read with them, helps to strengthen student’s interest in reading when they see adults care about them and care about their reading skills and in turn that does improve their achievement in reading.

Barb Hart, Garfield Elementary, Volunteer Coordinator:  We have volunteers read with students one-on-one or in small groups and it is really important because some students don’t have anyone that reads to them at home so it’s nice to have an adult that cares, read to them here.

Molly Hardinger:  Most classes rely on reading—even math story problems—starting in third grade.  If you don’t know how to read, you’ll be behind in those subjects so I just feel it’s important to teach kids to value reading.

Adult mentors may provide emotional support, guidance that enhances a child’s self-esteem, and advice that many teens find uncomfortable seeking from their parents.  Source: Education Volunteer Call to Action, United Way Worldwide.

Steve Carpenter:   A lot of people can share a little time.  And it’s no cliché, you’ll get more than you’ll ever give.  It’s a wonderful thing to point out to Jeremy to point out to anybody that once you discover that learning is fun, everything opens up and everything is possible.


Click here for event coverage from KCRG

Post history:

Sept. 19, 2012: Originally published.

Jan. 2, 2013: Transcript added.

Posted in Education, Events, News, Volunteering Tagged with: ,

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