Reading volunteers dedicated to students

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2000

Sometimes it takes a community effort to help meet the educational needs of area students and for students at W.O. Parmer Elementary school a group of volunteers have been helping to increase the reading levels of some students.

There are two groups that have been donating their time to read and listen to first and second graders at the school who have been having difficulties with the subject.

Assistant Principal Carol Teague said the group of ladies that have volunteered help the students in various ways.

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"They come in and work with them by allowing the children to read to them or they may read to them. The volunteers work with the students on a one-to-one basis, which is what we call shared reading. They also do a lot of work through our accelerated reader program," Teague said.

The volunteers serve as

reading partners for many of the accelerated reader students. The program is designed to increase reading skills by having a student read a book three times before being tested and moving up to the next level. One of those readings must be in front of someone which is a large part of how the reading tutors help those students.

Teague said the ladies help students at least once a week and are all dedicated to help

educate the students.

"Some of the volunteers are parents or grandparents and others have no connection to the school at all. They all enjoy working in the school and taking part in helping the children become better readers," she said.

One of the groups, known as the Steel Magnolias for Reading Excellence, works with the first-grade students. The role at the school was formed as part of a partnership with the parents of students at the school and the Greenville/Butler County Library. The ladies who take part through this group includes: Barbara Davison, Florence Howell, Mary Ann Hamilton, Ceil Hamilton, Gloria Hartley, Rebecca Carter and Tina Myrick.

The second group works with second graders through a partnership with the Saint Thomas Episcopal Church. Those volunteers include: Frances Frakes, Janice Odom, Rachel Searcy, Rosa McGowin, Susan McGowin, Jo Ann McGowin, Nancy Salter, Marsh Lindstrom, Anne Feathers, Betty Etheridge and Doris Debellis.

Ceil Hamilton has volunteered at W.O. Parmer for the past 13 years and said that helping the students is something that she finds very rewarding.

"It is a lot of fun. I believe that I get more out of it than the children," Hamilton said. "It is very rewarding when you have been working with a child on something and to see them when the light bulb goes on."

Hamilton began volunteering when the women of her church began volunteering.

"There was a group of us volunteering at the school and I had so much fun that I continued to go each week. When I first started I was helping with a first grade class and the teacher instructed me on what she wanted me to do whether it was read to the child, let them read, work on addition or subtraction and anything else the student may have had trouble with. Now we work a lot with the accelerated reading," she said.

Teague said the commitment these ladies have shown to the students could be very beneficial to their success as students.

"This has been a wonderful program for everyone involved, but especially the students. It really helps a lot in improving their self-esteem because it gives them a special person to work with and help them to improve. This is a marvelous gift from the community to volunteer their own time to help," Teague said.

Hamilton said that volunteers serve a valuable purpose at the school and play a role in the betterment of the community.

"I encourage everybody, men and women, to give an hour a week. They would get so much out of it themselves plus they would be serving a very important purpose. In the long run it will help us develop a better community.

"These kids want to learn and if we can help them in the early grades there is a better chance that they will continue to learn," Hamilton said.