Summer reading program needs volunteers

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

With reading scores at 20-year lows for West Virginia students, a summer literacy program offers kids the chance to improve their reading skills before heading back to the classroom this fall.

Operated by the West Virginia University Extension Office, Energy Express is a six-week program at schools throughout the state. In total, it serves approximately 3,000 students by providing them intensive reading assistance and two meals per day.

Joy Vance is the site coordinator at White Sulphur Springs Elementary this year. “This is a way for students to keep their reading skills they have developed and not slip backwards over the summer,” she says. “We also work on fun activities that go along with our books.”

College students work at each site, serving as mentors and organizers for the students at each grade level. They incorporate writing, drama, and STEAM activities into the curriculum as well, according to Vance.

Community volunteers are needed to come into the classroom and read to students each day. Volunteers can come weekly or a single time. It generally takes half an hour or less to volunteer, but the impact on the children is priceless. Not only do they build relationships with trusted adults, but they also learn the value of reading and build their skillset as they listen to new books. Educational leaders hope the payoff comes in the classroom in the form of increased student literacy.

Energy Express runs Monday-Thursday from 830am-1230pm through July 28. If you are able to volunteer at a Greenbrier County site, call Meghan McCallister at 304-536-3086 or email her at meghanmccallister16@gmail.com. Statewide, call your county WVU Extension Office to signup as a volunteer.

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