Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. is seeking volunteers for this year’s Book Buddies program.
Book Buddies, which kicks off Aug. 28 in 11 local elementary schools, provides second and third grade students with individualized reading support. The corporation utilizes community volunteers to read with two students — 30 minutes each — at least once a week between August and April during the school day.
“Students are about six months to a year behind when they begin with the program,” said Debbie Lindauer, Book Buddies director. “We track our data every year, and we have a success rate of about 89 to 96 percent of students who are at grade level reading by the end of the school year.”
Students are referred to the program through test scores and teacher referrals. They begin reading books at a level comfortable for them, then gradually increase in difficulty as they achieve reading goals.
Each session includes working on vocabulary words, reading a selection prepared by a site supervisor and playing a game that reinforces phonics skills.
Lindauer said 162 students participated in the program during the 2016-17 academic year with several more students on a waiting list.
BCSC Superintendent Jim Roberts, a strong supporter of the program, read with two students at Columbus Signature Academy’s Fodrea Elementary School last year.
“Learning to read, and demonstrating so by being at grade level by the end of grade three, is critical as our expectations quickly change to ‘reading to learn’ in grade four,” Roberts said.
Roberts encourages everyone with “a little time to spare” to sign up as a volunteer. More than 300 volunteers are currently involved in the program, but with 100 additional volunteers, about 50 more students could join.
“I am confident that all will find the experience to be worthwhile,” Roberts said.
Volunteers must obtain a background check and attend a one-hour training session prior to serving as a tutor. To learn more about how to volunteer, contact Debbie Lindauer at 812-376-4461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.