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ALPINE — Thousands of teachers attending this week's Utah Education Association convention will learn best practices. An elementary in Alpine could offer a lesson on parent engagement.
Coordinators at Westfield Elementary have recruited 42 PTA volunteers to read with struggling students every week for the school year.
"It's a great way for me to give back to the school and to really invest in these kids' future," said parent Nicole Kelsch.
Westfield takes part in KSL's Read Today tutoring program. The school has strong community support. But like so many Utah elementaries, many students struggle to read at grade level.
Read Today has changed the equation for kids by pairing them with volunteer tutors. Of the 3,164 students who took part in the program last year, O percent started at grade level. But 85 percent finished the year at grade level. So attracting tutors became a priority for Westfield's coordinator, Patti Daniels.
"I started asking people, and went to back to school night and sent out flyers," she said. "I asked people to help me find people in the neighborhood who would be willing to come in and help read with children."
Dozens responded, from parents to empty nesters. And many attended the school as Chopper 5 landed on the playground to celebrate their success. World Wide Book Drive donated 1,700 books to boost this focus on reading.
Director Chuck Richards said, "Literacy is the future. If you can't read, you're not going to get a good job, you're not going to get into college."
School leaders didn't waste any time getting their volunteers trained and reading to students. And now, three weeks into the program, tutors are already seeing exciting growth. Just as quickly, they're developing relationships with their young charges.
Volunteer Doug Shattuck got a little choked up as he described his experience. "When I met with the student, it was hard to hold back the emotion, if that makes sense," he said.