Nelson: Amendment 66 gets the attention, Summit County’s Reading Buddy program should get the support |

Nelson: Amendment 66 gets the attention, Summit County’s Reading Buddy program should get the support

No matter which side of Amendment 66 you’re on, there’s little doubt that our local education system has struggled to keep up with the diverse needs of our community. Not having children myself, I’ve tended to question both sides of ballot issues regarding our ongoing educational funding problems. I’ve since volunteered with the Rotary “Reading Buddy” program at the Silverthorne Elementary School, and it’s been a huge eye-opener to the challenges our teachers face. Many of our children come from non-English-speaking families, and even if their parents have the best of intentions it’s a challenge for them to help with homework. These children left behind from the beginning, and the level of diversity in the classroom puts a huge strain upon the teachers.

Whether Amendment 66 passes or not, I’d like to see our community more involved with the Reading Buddy program. All of the Summit County elementary schools participate, and it’s a great way to pair local citizens with children on a one-on-one basis to give them the attention and encouragement they need, while freeing up much-needed resources for the teachers. This is my fourth year with the program and I’ve been amazed that even 45 minutes a week can make a huge difference in a child’s confidence and getting him or her on the right educational track. If more of our community participated, it could be a good initial step in spring-boarding many of our children toward a better education and brighter future.

If the Reading Buddy program intrigues you, but you’ve never worked with children, don’t worry. All it takes is genuine interest, patience and a smile. If there are weeks when you can’t be there, it’s not a problem. Any amount of time you spend in the classroom is greatly appreciated. If you’re interested, please contact Mary Anne Johnston at Typically, you can pick the elementary school, days and times you want. You’ll be paired with a teacher and a student, although there are also opportunities to work in a group situation.

Sometimes it really does take a village, and the Reading Buddy program provides an avenue for many of us to participate in the future of our community’s children. The schools appreciate any help you can give them.

Debra Nelson


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