Be a STAR at Peabody!
By Ginger Spickler
What can you do in an hour? Balance your checkbook? Catch a TV show? Clean out the fridge? It’s not a lot of time – less than 1% of your week, in fact. But in just one hour a week you can make a significant impact on not one, but two children’s lives by participating in the new STAR (Super Tutors Achieving Results) tutoring program at Peabody Elementary.
The STAR program, which is being run jointly by Peabody’s PTA and staff members, is based on another local tutoring program at an inner-city school that has seen impressive results in its short history. Almost 80% of kids who were tutored through the Ready Readers program at Georgia Avenue Elementary improved their reading skills by at least one grade level, and half of those children actually improved by two grade levels.
Peabody’s STAR program will focus its efforts primarily on struggling readers in 2nd and 3rd grades. An April 2011 study by Donald Hernandez reported, “Third grade is an important pivot point in a child’s education, the time when students shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn. Interventions for struggling readers after third grade are seldom as effective as those in the early years.” The report goes on to say that a child who is not reading on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate from high school on time than a child who is reading proficiently.
At Peabody, the faculty, staff, and parents are committed to making sure that all of our students are given a chance to see their stars rise. But because of a variety of factors, about 60% of students in Peabody’s 2nd and 3rd grades are currently reading below grade level, according to the new, tougher Tennessee standards, putting them at far greater academic risk than their proficient classmates. The good news is that there’s still time to get these children on track, and your one hour a week could be all it takes to put Peabody’s Rising Stars on the path to success.
The STAR tutoring program is designed to be as simple and straightforward as possible so that you know exactly what you’re signing up for. Each tutor commits to coming to Peabody for one hour each week from mid-October until late April for one school year. Can’t commit to every week? Recruit a few friends or co-workers and form a tutoring team so that each of you only has to come once or twice a month.
During your hour, you will tutor two students for 30 minutes each. Another tutor will work with those same students later in the week so that each Rising Star gets an hour per week of one-on-one coaching. The materials you need will be ready and waiting for you in the same place each week so that every minute you spend in the school building is focused on your students instead of rounding up supplies. You’ll also be able to communicate with the child’s teacher through a progress report in the student’s STAR file.
The requirements to participate in STAR are simple. First, you’ll need to attend one training session. Second, you’ll have to fill out the online volunteer registration form and get fingerprinted at the MCS main office. The last thing you need is simply a commitment to your students. They will look forward to seeing you and will count on your help as they work hard to become better readers.
And that hour you spend with them each week? Well, I’m guessing that the time you spend with Peabody’s Rising Stars will bring you a lot more satisfaction than even the most exciting episode of Dancing with the Stars. To learn more about the STAR program, including tutoring times and training details, or to sign up, please visit FriendsOfPeabody.org or call Ginger Spickler at 901-216-2162.