With your support, children succeed in school and life.
Oliver is a student at one of Hartford’s Community Schools. Upon first impressions, the second-grader comes across as shy, but as he opens up, his smile and personality light up a room. He’s a happy child with a bright future; a lover of soccer, super heroes and learning.
Two years ago, however, a significant obstacle clouded Oliver’s vision of a successful future: Oliver was still struggling with learning to read. His struggle to master reading skills, despite receiving extra help at school, hindered his progress in school and represented a frustrating time for him and his family.
Concerned, Oliver’s mother approached the Alfred E. Burr Community School Program Coordinator in hopes that her son, with even more help, could be placed back on the road to success in school. Oliver was immediately assigned a United Way Reader, a volunteer named Sidney, to provide one-on-one assistance once a week. The goal was to help Oliver read on grade level by working together to improve his literacy and comprehension skills in new and exciting ways.
Sidney is one of more than 100 United Way Readers who committed themselves to children’s success during the 2014 spring semester. Not only does Sidney value his time spent with Oliver, but Oliver also looks forward to Sidney’s visits every Thursday afternoon, and his reading has developed considerably.
Motivated and eager to continue to grow as a reader, Oliver loves talking about the stories he and Sidney read together. Given new materials each week, the duo engage in activities that make learning fun, like drawing exercises to summarize stories and discuss lessons learned. Because of this work and the bond formed with Sidney, Oliver has become comfortable with words he doesn’t know and confidently works with Sidney to pronounce them.
“It does not take a lot of effort to have a positive impact on students like Oliver. A helping hand and a little encouragement makes a significant, lasting difference in their lives,” said Sidney. “I am fortunate to be able to help Oliver in the same way I was helped as a child. This experience has been a great investment of my time.”
Oliver’s passion for reading is evident. His reading comprehension and literacy skills have improved tremendously. He can better sound out words and recognizes punctuations in his favorite book, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Oliver and Sidney were both excited to share that test results have shown Oliver is now reading above grade level. He is on track and has a clear view of a successful future.
Since August 2012 nearly 350 United Way Reader volunteers read with 1,125 students on an on-going basis, and participated in one-time read-aloud events that reached over 6,000 students.
United Way invests in education programs and initiatives that work with results we can measure. Gifts directly to United Way help children succeed in school and life. We all win when children learn to read on grade level and Alfred E. Burr Community School in Hartford is just one of many partners working with us to achieve this goal. This is one way United Way, its partners and caring people like you build a stronger community and create lasting, positive change for all of us.