16 youngsters graduate from N2N tutoring program
By Mark Newman, News Staff
By all the smiling faces you could tell these children were looking forward to doing a little summer reading.
Sixteen youngsters in grades 1-3 at St. Michael Catholic Elementary School received gift bags containing books and other writing materials after completing the school year in the Kids Can Success tutoring program provided free of charge by trained volunteers from Neighbour to Neighbour Centre.
The special graduation ceremony was held in the library of the Hester Street school on June 18.
Tony Capretta, a special education resource teacher at St. Michael, said the tutoring program has been very successful since it arrived there seven years ago.
“The kids who enter this program are usually struggling with reading or need to be supported in some kind of way,” he said. “The extra support they’re given by the one to one support helps them not only with their decoding skills but also with their comprehension skills which allows them to continue to move up along with the rest of their classmates.”
Capretta noted that when youngsters know how to read their confidence grows and other subject areas also become easier for them.
“I really like reading with my reading teacher,” said seven-year-old Grade 2 student Gabirella Amaral, one of the youngsters the program at St. Michael. “I’m starting to get better at reading.”
Eight-year-old Emma Bejarano said her reading skills have also improved since she joined the program two years ago.
“Now I know how to read, I know how to spell the words and pronounce them.” the Grade 2 student said.
“I like reading because I got better and better and it’s sometimes funny,” added seven-year-old Stifan Markos, also in Grade 2.
Deban Brunette, director of educational programs at Neighbour to Neighbour, said the program helped 250 Mountain children this year and nearly 2,000 youngsters have improved their reading skills since the program began 11 years ago.
“About 97 percent of the kids actually increase their reading scores,” said Brunette, who noted of that total, about 30 percent reach or surpass their grade level. “Some of them improve a little; some of them improve a whole lot.”
Brunette said the schools pick the youngsters they want in the program and provide the tutors with each child’s reading scores at the beginning of the sessions in October.
Follow-up testing is done in the late fall and in May.
The program that started at R.A. Riddell school in 2003 wrapped up for another year at 14 Mountain elementary schools last month.
Brunette said for the program to expand further more volunteer tutors and monetary donations are needed as they do not receive any government funding.
“We really need to find some more supporters for this program moneywise,” Brunette said.