It was a bit disheartening to see a recent article in the Fresno Bee sharing the Nation’s Report card putting Fresno Unified “near rock bottom”. We can talk for days about the problems, the issues, the reasons, and it’s easy to point fingers and cast blame. But you know what they say: “When you point a finger at others, four fingers are pointing back at you.” Actually, I believe they are pointing back at ALL of us, because we all have the opportunity to be part of the solution. So let’s talk about what you can do to help increase literacy, and the fulfillment that can be found in helping a child learn to read.
ENP was formed in 2008 to equip volunteers to serve our schools and neighborhoods. Why? Because there are some incredible opportunities in our city and specifically in our schools. Opportunities . . . to give back . . . to be the church . . . to love our neighbor . . . to be a part of the change . . . to make an impact . . . to do better for our kids. All that!
You may be thinking that there are so many needs, too many issues, and honestly the problems are just overwhelming! What difference could one person make?
Take a Closer Look
For a moment, I want to ask you to zoom back in from the 5,000 foot view and look into the eyes of a child; a child who is struggling with reading, trying to learn English, or just needs another person in their life who believes in them!
I also would challenge you to talk to a few people who spent this past year serving as a Literacy Mentor. They would tell you how they loved working one-on-one with students and seeing the pride and joy on their faces when they achieved a goal. Or how encouraging it was to be a part of their progress, both in their ability to read and in their LOVE of reading. That is HUGE!
Ask a teacher about the value of literacy mentors who invested a couple hours a week in their classroom and students.
Mrs. Yang said, “I saw a tremendous improvement in students mastering sight words this year. I truly believe having a consistent schedule of volunteers had a positive effect. Awesome job!”
Mrs. Adjinian also expressed gratitude for the volunteers who came to help in her classroom, “I appreciate all the help and support I received from all the mentors. It’s great to see the excitement in the students’ eyes when they see their mentor walking in. Thank You!”
Literacy Mentoring Numbers
This past year we piloted the Literacy Mentoring Program. 57 volunteers focused their attention on students in Kindergarten – 3rd grade classrooms. They were helping kids with sight words and reading, with a heart to be a mentor. We placed volunteers on 8 elementary school campuses, in 24 classrooms. These volunteers spent time with more than 200 students who simply needed a little extra help and encouragement. We want this program to grow!
We will continue investing in these precious kids; they are worth it! We know Fresno Unified believes that, too.
The district doesn’t need to do this alone. Teachers deserve our support. The kids will thrive with more people investing in their education and in their lives. Our community can play a significant role in this challenge. Together we can make a difference!
This summer we are hiring a part time Literacy Coordinator. This position can bring depth to our program. It will allow ENP to train more volunteers to love and serve these kids, our schools, and our city. We would love to find someone with a background in elementary education, literacy or reading intervention and with a heart for our city. (Maybe a retired teacher?) You may know someone who would be perfect for this job. Please share this opportunity.
The challenge is on! Are you “in”?