Coordinator: Jane Rockwell
UW-Eau Claire, Brewer 154E
The primary goal of this program is to increase the chances that a child will enjoy all kinds of literature by providing opportunities to read with a volunteer partner. The partner helps bridge the gap between print and the individual through various kinds of reading experiences, helping the individual build background knowledge, increase comprehension of what is being read, and fostering joy and a feeling of success in reading. Another key goal of the program is to help the child see that reading is a process to be enjoyed and that it is something that you do for yourself, not just something that takes place at school under more formal conditions.
Volunteers (usually from the university pool of students) are matched and provided with a brief orientation from the Reading Partnership Coordinator, an Eau Claire Area School District employee who is housed on the UW-Eau Claire campus. Once matched, the reading partners usually meet in the home of the student, although some also meet in the school setting after school is over for the day. The volunteer brings a variety of literature to these meetings (often checked out from the Reading Program Partnership's office library) and the partners take turns reading the material.
Who is referred?
Children are usually referred to the program for one of two reasons. The first reason would be that the child is falling behind the average reading level for most students in his/her grade level. This situation affects the student's coursework in all subject areas. The second reason that a child might be referred is because the student is learning English as a second language and needs to have some one-to-one practice using English outside the school setting.
Why are university students used as volunteers?
Students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are required to document 30 hours of service learning over the course of their time at UW-Eau Claire. This program can fulfill that need. There are also several courses in the Education Studies Department that require time spent working with elementary students and this can also serve that purpose. In addition, majors from the foreign language department and minors in the TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) programs can obtain extra practice in their fields of study.
Additional events and activities:
Throughout the school calendar year, special events are held where all elementary students in the program can attend, as well as their families, for fun literacy activities. A goal of these events is to be sure that each child attending has a new book to bring home to add to their own home libraries, as many, if not most, of the children in this program come from homes that do not have funds to make book/educational material purchases.