PINEHURST — New volunteers are entering West Orange–Stark Elementary classrooms to help the West Orange–Cove Consolidated Independent School District “Build Great Readers” through a community partnership with area churches.
“We are excited that we can partner with our churches to help service the children in our community. We recognize that we serve the same people and we hope that this is the start of even more partnerships in the future,” Superintendent James Colbert said.
The Build Great Readers partnership originated through a series of luncheons with local pastors which began when Colbert became Superintendent of West Orange-Cove CISD. The luncheons provided the opportunity to update church leaders regarding happenings within the WO-C CISD school system and also provided pastors an opportunity to ask questions about the District.
The Build Great Reader partnership project evolved from the participating churches and West Orange-Cove CISD committing to the development of a partnership project to serve the community.
“I am excited about it and the potential of the clergy and the school coming together to work on the climate and culture. It is also a great opportunity for the community to see the churches working together,” Demetrius Moffett, Pastor of the First Church of God, said.
The pilot BGR program matches volunteer partners to kindergarten through grade five classrooms. Volunteers spend 45 minutes one day weekly reading to or with individual students or small groups of students. During these reading sessions, volunteers assist students with word pronunciation, vocabulary, and comprehension.
Pastors took information about the Build Great Readers program to their congregations and asked for their support as volunteers.
“I presented it in a sermon as an opportunity to have an impact on young children’s live through an education outreach opportunity. Everyone wants to have a positive impact and make a difference. What better way is there to do that than with kids,” Tony Hoefner, Pastor of First United Methodist Church said.
At the start of school, Benny Smith, Principal of West Orange–Stark Elementary, presented information regarding the BGR pilot program to his staff. Teachers from all grade levels signed up to host paired reading volunteers.
Last week, WO-S Elementary staff members provided an extensive professional development to BGR volunteers. It not only instructed volunteers on effective paired reading techniques with elementary students, but also provided the volunteers the opportunity to get to know the teachers they will work with and the procedures associated with the daily operations of the campus.
“The training was excellent. The program’s objectives and vision were articulated very well in a clear and precise manner. With the training received, I know this program will be successful. I look for this to be an ongoing program that other school districts will look to adopt,” Moffett said.
Hoefner said he was impressed that he was actually able to practice the reading techniques that he and other volunteers will be using in the classroom.
He will be volunteering in a second grade classroom; while Moffett will be volunteering in a classroom of fourth graders.
Both men are excited to have an opportunity to work with the school district and with children.
Hoefner said, “It is so do-able. It is simple, structured, organized, and with measurable goals.”
Currently, nine churches have committed volunteers to the Build Great Readers program. They are Community Church, Faith United Methodist Church, First Church of God, First Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church, Salem United Methodist Church, St. James Missionary Baptist Church, St. Therese Catholic Church, and Victory Life Church.
The District hopes that the number of volunteers will grow and the BGR program will move into additional classrooms.
The trained volunteers are prepared and eager to begin reading with children.
“The level of excitement is indescribable in one word. It is always exciting to be able to be a part of a process to help a child to succeed,” Moffett said.