Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why I'm Volunteering to Be a Reading Partner Again

When I was on vacation a few weeks ago, I had a dream that I was walking through a large public school library filled with students. They were all going to take a standardized test. There were so many students in the room that they were sitting on all of the window sills, and on the tops of bookshelves.

As I walked through the library, I realized that they were all going to fail the test because they couldn't read. Many of them were going to end up in jail.

I woke up feeling deeply sad, and a bit befuddled by why my subconscious would decide to stage a dream about America's messed up public education system at the beginning of my vacation! Over the next two nights, I had more dreams about working with young people, but the first one was the most vivid. It stayed with me throughout the trip.

Then, this week, I read The Washington Post story, SAT reading scores hit a four-decade low.

Sooooooo, I've decided to be a volunteer "reading partner" again at my local elementary school.  Once a week, I'll read one-on-one with a kindergartner for half an hour, and then with a fifth grader for half an hour.  We'll stay reading partners throughout the school year.

I took a break from being a reading partner during the last last school year 'cause frankly, working in the public school system depresses me.  It's not the kids, it's just the overall dysfunction of the system. But you know what?  I need to get over it 'cause it's only an hour a week for eight months out of the year. And I always love working with young people. And I have a flexible schedule 'cause I work for myself.  Come on, Bravo!

If you're looking for a volunteer opportunity, search around on VolunteerMatch, Idealist, and, as well as on individual organization's websites. Don't forget to see if your local public school and public library need volunteers too!

Will you be volunteering this fall? If so, what made you decide to volunteer?

Harriet the Spy was one of my absolute favorite books growing up.  I read it more times than I can count!

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