Elementary school reading buddies

Ben Milam Elementary

Ben Milam is a lovely little school about 3 blocks north of Incarnation. Like Incarnation, Ben Milam is a little over 100 years old. It has about 267 very well-mannered students from Pre-K to 5th Grade. Its population is about 80% plus Hispanic. Most of the children’s parents live and work in the area. The Principal, Ms. Anna Gamez, has guided a staff of caring teachers and created a wonderful learning environment. However, there are plenty of students who need help with reading; many come from homes where Spanish is the first language. If you can spend an hour a week you will be richly rewarded and do much good. Please consider us!

Champion: Scotty Minter

John F. Kennedy Learning Center

JFK Learning Center, across from the Episcopal Cathedral on Ross, has a student population of about 650 students — 93% of whom are Hispanic. We concentrate our literacy tutoring on grades K–2. The school has ESL classes available and we stress early intervention with student’s learning problems. Volunteers normally work in the mornings in a 45 minute to 60 minute timeframe. The students love it when you dramatize your voice while reading out loud, and it takes less than an hour. Usually, the current volunteers head down the hall carrying a book and leave smiling. For students with reading problems, the focus is on getting them to grade level with letter recognition, the position of the letter in the alphabet, the sounds the letters make, phonics, etc. Helping them try to decode words and read out loud is certainly an important part, but the volunteer opportunity is more like “tutoring” when dealing with the fundamentals. If you find you enjoy it and can consider an additional hour a week, you will really see the progress.

Champion: Larry Hysinger

J.W. Ray Learning Center

J.W. Ray Elementary School is located just a few blocks away from Incarnation at the corner of Lemmon Ave. & Caddo St. It is a predominantly African-American school that feeds into Spence Middle School (Also a few blocks away from Incarnation). Over 10 years ago, Incarnation partnered with J.W. Ray Elementary School to start a program recognizing the importance of literacy in early childhood education. Today JW Ray utilizes a national non-profit organization, Reading Partners, to teach reading skills. Watch this video to learn more about Reading Partners at JW Ray.  Literacy is the single-most important part of education. Without it, all other learning is impossible. Reading Buddies read with assigned students on a weekly basis. Not only are lasting friendships formed, but the children truly benefit from the additional time spent reading. Help us make a difference in a child’s life!

Champion: Mary Jo Milbank