Whitesburg KY
Cloudy
Cloudy
24°F
 

Grandparents are helping young students learn how to read




(From left) Yvonne Collins, Louise Shepherd, Edith Breeding and Georgia Adams are among the Letcher County residents who participate in the Foster Grandparent Program.

(From left) Yvonne Collins, Louise Shepherd, Edith Breeding and Georgia Adams are among the Letcher County residents who participate in the Foster Grandparent Program.

A special reading program uses the encouragement and love of grandparents to help teach some Letcher County students how to read.

The Foster Grandparent Program, sponsored by Save the Children, pairs low income senior citizens with struggling readers in elementary schools. Seven senior citizens in Letcher County spend as many as 20 hours a week in one-on-one sessions with students who need to improve their reading and writing skills.

“Little kids who can’t read – the grannies get them reading,” said Laura Stigall, who directs the Foster Grandparent Program through Save the Children’s Appalachia Field Office in Berea.

Stigall says the foster grandparents, also known as literacy tutors, give students emotional support and love, which boost self-esteem.

“What helps is to put your arms around them and tell them you love them and that they can do it,” said Yvonne Collins, a literacy tutor at Cowan Elementary School.

The literacy tutors, some of whom have been involved in the reading program since 1998, are eager to tell of the success they have had helping students.

“Two years ago when she was in the sixth grade, I started her out on the lowest level of books. Now she is on the honor roll,” said literacy tutor Edith Breeding, referring to a student at Letcher Elementary School.

Collins said one of the students she tutors didn’t know how to hold a pencil in his hand when she met him.

“I would stand over his shoulder and help him write and read. Now he is doing great,” said Collins.

Louise Shepherd, a literacy tutor at Cowan Elementary School, said she also helped a kindergarten student who couldn’t hold a pencil properly.

“He would cry every day. Now he tries real hard and says ‘look what I can do,'” said Shepherd.

Letcher County schools that participate in Save the Children literacy programs are eligible for the Foster Grandparent Program, which is funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service. Cowan and Letcher elementary schools are the only two schools that have foster grandparents. Arlie Boggs and Beckham Bates elementary schools are in need of volunteers to become foster grandparents.

“Our numbers have dropped and we want to get people back into the program,” said Stigall.

Each participant in the program must be over the age of 60 and meet certain requirements. The foster grandparents receive monthly training on how to help students read.

“It gives you something to get up for and is extra money,” said Collins. “It helps pay the electric bill.”

Those interested in becoming a literacy tutor can contact Anna Caudill, Foster Grandparent Program coordinator in Letcher County, at 633-4106.

Leave a Reply