Jun 29, 2011
When you think of volunteering, you probably don’t think of coloring pictures of kittycats and tugboats. But that’s exactly how I spent my Saturday morning volunteering with STAIR.
Along with 5 other volunteers, we colored, cut, and arranged different packets ofdrawings and vocabulary words. At one point, one of the volunteers asked, “Why are wecoloring these instead of the kids?” A coordinator replied, “We get this stuff out the waybecause we want them to be focused on learning to read.”
Teaching kids how to read is the goal of STAIR. Short for “Start the Adventure inReading,” STAIR is a non-profit organization focused on second graders with low literacy levels.Using a team of devoted volunteer tutors and a curriculum that employs workbooks, flashcards,games (like the sheets of “Lingo Bingo” that I colored), and books, STAIR seeks to bridge the gapbetween the present literacy level and the ideal literacy level.
At STAIR, a tutor is assigned a student to work with. These one-on-one relationships offer the kids a more hands-on learning experience, but it was obvious to me that the bonds forged with the kids meant a lot to the tutors as well. The tutors I talked to on Saturday talked about how invested they became in each of their students, how they loved hearing progress reports about each of them and getting to know the families. They are people deeply devoted tothe idea of early literacy and helping the children of New Orleans. Just spending a few hours with them was a rewarding experience. Sometimes the issues facing us when it comes to earlychildhood education can seem overwhelming, but it was heartening to see this organization making a difference, one kid at a time.
If you are interested in becoming a tutor, volunteering your time in some other way, ordonating to STAIR, you can find more information at their website, stairnola.com.