“It was so encouraging when the teacher shared with me one of my reader’s score improvements since meeting together! We’re making a difference!”
This is one of many excited responses from volunteers when asked why they enjoy being a Volunteer in Proficiency (VIP). During its first full year, VIP served 10 elementary schools in the Cedar Rapids and College Community school districts, with several more on the waiting list for fall 2018.
Being a VIP offers volunteers the opportunity to make a lasting impact in a child’s life, one hour at a time. Teachers select students who struggle with reading and could benefit from the support of caring adult to increase their confidence in their reading abilities to read with a VIP each week.
While principals and teachers welcome volunteers into their schools and classrooms to support students’ academic growth, they also acknowledge the greatest gift volunteers give is undivided attention from a caring adult. As one teacher said, “I think it gives the students a person who can devote all of their attention to them and help build their confidence in reading. Anytime we have the chance to have one-on-one time with our students is valuable to their success.”
Each VIP session gives volunteers and their assigned students time to get to know each other and explore their favorite books together. With students ranging from first through fourth grade, volunteers read to students, listen to students read, or trade off reading to help the student increase their confidence. Volunteers read with the same two students individually for 20 minutes each week for twelve weeks during the fall and/or spring sessions.
The VIP program gives volunteers an easy, yet fulfilling, opportunity to make a difference for local children. When asked what they enjoy most about being a VIP, participants respond with statements like, “Helping our next generation be successful!” and “Feeling like I am contributing to the school and our community.” This program truly benefits everyone.