As a former teacher, Betty Kron knows the importance that extra attention and support can play in a young student’s development. So when she heard that Inverness Village was looking for residents to volunteer with Reading Parters, she signed on right away.
A self-described night owl, Betty needs a little extra motivation to get out of bed in the mornings, she jokes. Three days a week, it’s a morning swim in the Fitness Center pool that makes her rise a bit earlier than she might otherwise.
But it’s giving back to the community that provides Betty with the greatest motivation – and reward.
Important to work with the new generation
“I think it’s very important for us ‘old people’ to get out and work with younger people,” Betty says. “The children in Reading Partners are already behind in reading in the early elementary years and there is a wealth of statistics out there that show the effect that has on high school graduation rates and being a successful member of society. I felt this was something I could do to help.”
Reading Partners sends trained volunteers into schools to work one-on-one with children who are at least six months behind in their reading schools, using a highly structured program. First, the child selects a book for the tutor to read with him or her. That is followed by work in phonics, vocabulary development and sentence structure. The non-profit organization began in 1999 in California, and now operates in nine other states.
Betty volunteers once a week, and just started her second year with the program.
Tutoring impact was a ‘revelation’
Last spring, she worked with a first-grader named Xavier and was thrilled when she saw the progress they had made at the end of the semester.
“I wasn’t always sure when I was working with him that I was making a great deal of progress,” Betty says. “He was a young boy and full of energy as they are at that age. I had to work to keep his attention sometimes. But in our very last session, he went over to the basket to pick out a book and said, ‘Now I want to read the book to you.’ It was a real revelation to me to see that what I had done had helped.”
Just as important as the instructional support volunteers provide is boost to self-esteem they bring, Betty says. “Having someone praise you and confirm that you’re a worthwhile individual is just as important as the reading program.”
In addition to working with Xavier, Betty also purchased books for him. Reading Partners focuses on getting more books into the homes of the children who are in its program and making reading a family activity. Reading Partners children are able to take home books to add to their collection as long as they show proof that they have read them by answering some basic questions.
Betty was joined in her volunteer work by several other Inverness Village residents. This year, four will be joining her in Reading Partners.
“Inverness Village and its residents truly make a wonderful contribution and meaningful difference with the students in Reading Partners at Park Elementary,” says Jessica Risenhoover, Sr. Community Engagement Manager with Reading Partners Tulsa. “The one-on-one support they receive is vital to their success, and we are truly grateful for volunteers like Betty Kron who dedicate one of their most valuable resources, their time, to the program.”