Volunteers needed for Read-Learn-Grow program

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Looking to make a difference in the life of a child? Get Troup Reading and the Troup County School System are currently looking for volunteers for the Read-Learn-Grow program for the 2023-2024 school year.

The Read-Learn-Grow program is a volunteer program where trained and approved community volunteers commit one hour a week to go into a first-grade classroom during the teacher’s small group reading block of time to help students with their reading.

Nicole Kennedy, TCSS communications coordinator, said the program is looking for 140 volunteers for the new school year. Last year, the program had 61 volunteers working in 15 first-grade classrooms.

Volunteers in the program will be placed in a first-grade classroom at Breta Weathersbee, Callaway, Clearview, Ethel Kight, Franklin Forest, Hollis Hand, Hogansville and West Point Elementary schools.

During the program, volunteers may be working on letter sounds, practicing with trick words, practicing writing the letters, words, and sentences together, reading books together and talking about story elements in small group settings.

Kim Myers, director of Get Troup Reading, said this is the third year of the program being conducted face-to-face.

“The idea for the program came about six years ago and was going to be implemented in first-grade classrooms, the year COVID hit. During that COVID year, the program started as virtual tutoring with students. When we went back to school face-to-face, the program started in two elementary schools as a pilot program, which turned out to be very successful,” Myers said.

“The program focuses on first grade because they go from kindergarten where they have two adults in the classroom to first grade where there’s just one adult. Our mission at Get Troup Reading is to have all children reading on grade level by third grade so that kindergarten to first grade is so important.”

Myers said when children get into first grade, that’s when they start falling behind in literacy.

“In having an extra pair of hands in the first-grade classroom, we hope it allows the teacher to utilize the adult to help with literacy instruction with small groups and with whatever the teacher needs to help meet the needs of the students in their small group literacy block,” Myers said.

Myers said the program has seen success as it has continued to grow.

“We started with two schools and last year that number grew to four schools. This year that number has grown to eight schools participating in the program. So, we have doubled the number of volunteers that we need and are actively recruiting volunteers right now to participate in a training session,” Myers said.

There are four scheduled training sessions set for Aug. 22 at noon or 5:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at noon and Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m. All training sessions will be held at the Troup County School System Administrative Services building. Volunteers are trained at the central office level and background checks are completed by TCSS before they can begin.

Myers said to see growth in the program feels rewarding.

“It really shows community support with our school teachers and with the school system because it takes all of us working together. This program is a great example of how we can support our schools, our students and work together as a community to hopefully have all our children reading on grade level by third grade,” Myers said.

Kennedy said it has been exciting to see the program growing.

“It’s been a little challenging though finding volunteers but we’re excited to get into more of the schools. We hope that we have the volunteer pool from the community interested in helping us,” Kennedy said.

In its four years of being active, Kennedy said the program has been seeing results.

“Our teacher feedback has been very positive. They are so appreciative of the help and students have grown socially because they have small group time to talk with an extra adult in the classroom,” Kennedy said. “The teachers tell us they’re becoming more confident because they have extra hands to help practice skills that they might be lacking. It’s great to see all the progress we have been making.”

For more information, contact Kim Myers at kimmyers@gettroupreading.org or Nicole Kennedy at 706-812-7900 at ext 1138 or email at Kennedysn@troup.org.