Riverside Reading Volunteers

 Why Riverside School? We believe that reading is a fundamental, life-long skill and feel community members can inspire a love of reading by volunteering their time to listen to children read. 

What do reading volunteers do? Volunteers listen to students read books and talk with the students about their books. 

What is the time commitment? Most volunteers dedicate an hour a week. Volunteers meet with around four students each week, spending about 15 minutes with each student. 

What is our church’s connection?  In 2016, when long time church member, Ray Phelps-Bowman, was the chair of the NAACP Education Committee, he and his co-chair, Mark Stevenson, initiated the reading program. They spent a year reading about schools that successfully taught minority students and visited local schools and one in Minneapolis that seemed to have been the most successful. Paying close attention to the individual students was definitely one of the key elements to successfully teaching the students, but that, of course, wasn’t enough. They also needed a structured program designed to meet the needs of the students they were paying attention to.

“Mark and I needed to decide on what seemed to be the most effective use of the local NAACP’s limited resources when helping students in the Rochester public school system. Essentially every source we accessed agreed that it was critical for a student to read at grade level by the end of third grade, and the Rochester public school system had a structured reading program, Action 100, that promised just that. 

Action 100 had graded, student reading materials organized by difficulty with each level designated by a color. Each level had reading materials covering multiple areas of interest. Students’ reading skills were to be evaluated on a regular basis and tailored interventions implemented to be sure the individual students were reading at grade level. 

Mark and I worked with the school system to officially allow our volunteers to go into the schools and work with the students on their reading skills. We recruited volunteers from multiple organizations, and the UU church turned out to be the largest source of volunteers. We were originally going to start the program in two schools but ended up only starting it at Riverside. We would spend about one hour a week having students read to us from their graded Action 100 books.”

While the Action 100 program no longer exists, volunteers continue to dedicate their time to reading at Riverside.

How do you volunteer? Contact Riverside Volunteer Coordinator, Jody Peterson, directly, jopeterson@rochesterschools.org.

Riverside Central Elementary School Needs Volunteers Like YOU!