If reading to young children, assisting in an early childhood classroom or simply being around kids sounds appealing, Keene State College has an opportunity.

The college’s KSC Reads Program is seeking volunteer tutors to assist at various schooling sites in and around Keene and Swanzey.

KSC Reads Coordinator and sophomore Maddie Chavez typically explains KSC Reads as a group on campus where students interested in working with kids go out into the community and read with young children, which is the program’s main focus, as well as hang out with them in the classroom.

Depending on the student’s schedule and availability, Chavez said the tutors are placed at Keene Day Care Center, Keene Head Start, Keene Housing Kids Collaborative or Swanzey Head Start.

Health science major and spanish minor Chavez said she first heard about the program as an incoming first-year student through the PreServe program and knew she wanted to apply.

She then said she was a KSC Reads tutor all of last year as a first-year at Keene Day Care Center and loved it.

Courtney Bethel/ Equinox staff

Courtney Bethel/ Equinox staff

While many jobs require 15 to 20 hours per week as a commitment, Chavez said KSC reads usually only requires five.

She said each week, the shifts end up being two different two-hour shifts at the student’s given site.

Additionally, Chavez said, “They [the tutors] go to their sites and every week they fill out a tutor progress report, just kind of checking in with us in the office and telling us what things are going well, what things are challenging for them and any suggestions or questions they have going on just so we keep in touch. Also, we have meetings for all the tutors once a month where we invite professionals in and work on their skills and professional development.”

As far as volunteers go, Chavez said there are many sites that would love tutors, so the program has plenty of spots open and she would love to see it expand.

As the program coordinator, Chavez said she isn’t really looking for anything specific.

“You don’t have to be an ed[ucation] major or anything, you just have to want to work with kids and like working with kids… [be] open to volunteering and you just have to be able to communicate with us and stay on top of it and balance it out with your schoolwork because it is a priority too,” she said.

Sophomore nursing major Hilmarie Javier has been tutoring at Keene Head Start for two years and said at first she didn’t really know how to act around the children, for it was her first time being around kids that young.

“I’ve definitely grown more patient with the kids, so that definitely will help me in the future because I think you really need patience with certain careers, especially nursing. I also learned communication skills…” Javier said.

As far as her duties within the classroom, Javier said she gets there around 10 a.m. while the children are out on the playground.

She said there are only two classroom teachers and a lot of kids, so she helps with setting out the food and other classroom activities.

Javier said, “During choice time, I sit at the literacy table and I either do literacy activities, like have them spell out horse or cat or something like that…pick out what letter each animal starts with [for example] or I read a book to them and do little activities with that.”

Sophomore early childhood education and dance major Ashley Hoffer just began tutoring this year at Keene Day Care.

She said she had heard about it from a friend when talking about how to get more involved on campus, specifically in the community service aspect.

Hoffer said her mom and aunt are both teachers, so she’s had previous experience in going into their classrooms and reading to children there, but has never experienced consistently going into a classroom twice a week.

Considering she just began at the beginning of the semester, she said, “I definitely was more timid when I first got there. I didn’t really know the kids as well. They’re younger, so some of them are really shy. I think I got better at working one-on-one with them and building that connection and relationship with them, gaining their trust.”

Currently, Hoffer works with two and three-year-olds in the classroom.

“They get so excited when they see you and they want to pull you over to see a toy or they bring you a book and you read it to them. They love pointing out the new things in the classroom… My favorite part is definitely them being really excited to see you and recognize you in the classroom because at first they’re like ‘Who are you? You’re a stranger,’ but once they know you and know your name, they want to talk to you,” Hoffer said.

According to the America Reads website, the program was proposed by the Clinton Administration in 1996 as a “national literacy campaign that would enlist ‘one million volunteer tutors ready and able to give children the personal attention they need to catch up and get ahead.’”

The overall mission of the program stated by the KSC website is that “KSC Reads supports the mission of having all children reading well and independently by the end of the third grade.”

If you’re interested in tutoring for the KSC Reads program, e-mail Madolyn.Chavez@ksc.keene.edu.

Jessica Ricard can be contacted at jricard@kscequinox.com

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