Be a STAR at Peabody
By Ginger Spickler
In its inaugural year, the STAR (Super Tutors Achieving Results) program at Peabody Elementary put more than two dozen community volunteers to work, coaching second and third graders on their reading skills. It was an amazing outpouring of support for the school’s students and Peabody’s teachers believe it really made a difference.
“My students became more fluent, confident readers as a result of the excellent commitment the STAR volunteers expressed with each visit,” said second-grade teacher Debby Smith. “I appreciate the commitment and dedication the STAR volunteers displayed and I can’t wait to work with them in the near future.”
The Peabody PTA and staff will once again be running the STAR Program to help support our teachers’ work with second- and third-grade students who are dealing with challenges in their ability to read or process what they’re reading. And there’s really no more important time to intervene with these children.
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 third grade is four times less likely to graduate from high school on time than a child who is reading proficiently.
The STAR tutoring program is designed to be as simple and straightforward as possible so that volunteers know exactly what they’re signing up for. Each tutor commits to coming to Peabody for one hour each week from early October until late April for one school year. For those who can’t commit to every week, there’s the option to recruit a few friends or co-workers and form a tutoring team so that each volunteer only has to come a couple of times 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 student 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 you’re not scrambling for supplies.
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 (last year’s tutors will not have to complete this step). 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.
To learn more about the STAR program or to sign up, please visit www.FriendsOfPeabody.org, or call Ginger Spickler at 216-2162.