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Read with U is back! Join #TeamUCPS as a Read With U volunteer and help instill a lifelong love of reading in young students

Read with U Picture On Oct. 1, elementary schools throughout the district officially kicked off their Read with U reading buddy program. Since its launch in 2017, more than 1,000 community members, parents and district staff have participated in the program to help foster a lifelong love of reading in young students.

Now, at the beginning of its third year of implementation, the community-based initiative is hoping to enlist the help of even more reading buddy volunteers to help students grow their literacy skills.

The Read with U program is simple: sign up to be a reading buddy and spend 30 minutes each week reading with a first-grade student.

It’s a small commitment that can yield sizeable and long-lasting gains in young students and also be just as rewarding for the reading buddies.

That’s exactly why community member Sarah Dittmer said she joined the Read with U program for the first time this school year.

Sitting in the media center with her reading buddy, Sarah said as soon as she heard about the program she knew she had to get involved. She loved working with children and loved reading – combining the two passions seemed like a no-brainer.

 “This was an opportunity to meet new children and help them. Reading is just so important -- we read to our grandchildren all the time – because it helps them learn more and it can open a whole new world,” she said. “Just to reach out and help someone else means the whole world to me, and it would be great if others could do the same. There can never be enough volunteers.”

By the end of their 30 minute session, which included reading several books and writing about their favorite parts, Dittmer and her reading buddy were already making plans to eat lunch together in the cafeteria after their next session. Even at first glance, it was clear that the two would grow to have a close bond in the coming months.

“This year, I hope to see the light shine in her eyes as she gets more comfortable reading. I hope for her to excel,” she said. “I can’t wait to continue working with her and seeing all that she will accomplish this year.”

Want to join the 1,000+ reading buddies across the district? It’s never too late to join #TeamUCPS as a Read with U volunteer this school year.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Visit the UCPS Volunteer Services webpage to complete a volunteer application.
  • Once your application is approved, contact the volunteer coordinator at your local elementary school to get started.
  • Read with your student for at least 30 minutes once per week during the school year.

While all schools need volunteers, please consider becoming a reading buddy at East, Benton Heights, Walter Bickett, Sardis, Marshville, Wingate, Rocky River or Rock Rest elementary schools. For more information, contact your school’s volunteer coordinator.

Posted: Oct. 1, 2019