Volunteers helping Dayton students hone reading skills

Dayton ISD's Stacey Gatlin reads with her buddy.

Kimmie M. Brown Elementary is one of Dayton ISD’s three elementary schools that have implemented the Reading Buddy Program. The program is getting high marks with the district and for the KMB campus.

Pastor Guy Williams, who is a member of the Community Leadership Alliance, organized the efforts this past fall to implement the Reading Buddy Program. Williams worked closely with the district’s Literacy Specialist Julie Chachere to implement the program district-wide.

There are 66 students who have been identified to participate in the program. KMB has 18 students of those students in the Reading Buddy Program. The student buddy reads with a community reading Buddy on a weekly basis. During their 30-minute session, students practice reading, review their spelling words, and save some time to build rapport through meaningful conversations. State tests are not mentioned. The focus is on authentic reading growth.

Rev. Geroge Ohmstede discusses the book his buddy is reading to him.

“We know that score increases will be a by-product of genuine reading growth. For this, we are grateful for the Reading Buddy Program and the volunteers,” said Principal Jessica Ott.

Principal Ott is appreciative of the Reading Buddy volunteers that are working with the KMB students. Volunteers for that campus include: Pastor Guy Williams, Rev. George Ohmstede, Dr. John Johnson, Allen Painter, Stacey Gatlin, Jenny Gunter, Renee DiSabatino, Stacy Spoerle, Maryland Asbill, Curtis Fahrlender, Mandy Reeves, Harlie Bush, Susan Seaberg, Debbie Ramsey, Stacie Lott, Mike Meligan, J.E. Bender, and Glenda Dom. The volunteers have committed to 30 minutes a week for eight weeks. Each week, they continue to work with their assigned ‘buddy’.

Not only does the campus administration love this program, so do the students.

“I like going to reading buddies because I don’t like to read by myself. At reading buddies, I get to read with someone. Also, my reading buddy encourages me,” said one student, who is the fourth-grade Reading Buddy of DISD’s Assistant Superintendent Allen Painter. In fact, the word has spread over the positivity of the program to other students.

KMB’s Instructional Coach, Roxie Asbill reported, “I have had students who are not in the program stop me in the hallway and ask me how they can get a reading buddy, too.”

“Many of our reading buddy sessions take place in the library. I can tell that students enjoy the program because they show up early looking for their buddy to get here,” said Librarian Kay Cook.

Dayton ISD is grateful to this new program and the many volunteers that are making a difference in the lives of the children.

The Reading Buddy Program will be having a bonus session. If you are interested in volunteering for 30 minutes a week starting after spring break for six weeks, then email Pastor Guy Williams at guy@firstumcdayton.org or go to facebook.com/readingbuddiesdayton to learn more and click the blue “sign up” button to volunteer.

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