Helping a child learn to read is one of the most rewarding jobs a person can do. If you have as little as four hours a week to spare, you can experience this satisfaction by joining the Staten Island School Reading Volunteer Program, now in its 56th year. The program is operated by the SIMHS in cooperation with the New York City Department of Education.
More than 200 volunteers are currently working in 30 Staten Island public elementary schools, where they tutor young children (grades 1-5) one-on-one at a location within the school building. Last year, the volunteers gave more than 10,000 hours teaching more than 600 children.
New volunteers are trained at a four-hour course (2 hours on 2 days) every fall and winter by a New York City reading teacher, who instructs them in various interactive techniques to help the children master the skills and discover the delights of reading. The techniques include reading together, telling stories, playing games and solving puzzles, discussing books of special interest, and writing prose and poetry. After training is completed, each volunteer selects a participating school, where he or she will spend about two hours a day, two days a week, tutoring youngsters with reading problems. The students to be tutored are chosen by their teachers, with permission from their parents, and are released from class for the sessions with the volunteer. Volunteers who can spare more than four hours a week may be permitted to do so.
Most reading volunteers form strong bonds of friendship with the children they tutor, building relationships that often last a lifetime.
To become a School Reading Volunteer, you must be a high school graduate, at least 18 years old. You should be in good health, be able to make a commitment of about four hours a week, and must have patience and concern for children.
Free training for new reading volunteers will be held on Tuesday, January 24 and Thursday, January 26, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. each day, at SIMHS headquarters, 669 Castleton Avenue, Building A. The training course will be repeated on Tuesday, January 31 and Thursday, February 2, same time and location. New volunteers are required to attend either of the two-day sessions.
For more information on the Staten Island School Reading Volunteer Program, or to register for a training session, call Maryann Striffolino or Joan Gerstel, program coordinators, at 718-442-2225, or send an E-mail to or MStriffolino@simhs.org or JGerstel@simhs.org.