Volunteers Wanted for McPolin Elementary School Summer Reading Program

Kara Cook, holding her daughter Hazel, started McPolin Elementary School’s summer reading program five years ago to help prevent what’s known as the summer slide, a phenomenon where children lose or forget things they have learned in class. We need volunteers to read one-on-one with students for this summer’s sessions.
Park Record File Photo

McPolin Elementary School looking for volunteers to read with the students during the summer.

The sessions, which will feature one student per volunteer, will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting June 14, at Treasure Mountain High School, said Kara Cook, who teaches first grade at McPolin Elementary.

“Each session lasts 30 minutes and volunteers can sign up for an hour or for the full day,” she said. “They can work with any child, so they don’t have to commit to the same time every day or every week.”

Volunteers can sign up by visiting bit.ly/summerliteracytutoring.

“They don’t need to bring anything or have any teaching experience,” Cook said of the volunteers. “We provide everything, and when they sign up there’s a link on the website for a video that explains the program.”

Although volunteers can choose their sessions, Cook and his teaching staff, who run the program, are there six hours a day, said Bob Edmiston, principal of McPolin Elementary School.

“They are there to oversee, manage and make sure everything is running smoothly,” he said.

Individual reading is a great way to help students read and prevent what’s called the Summer Slide, a phenomenon where children lose or forget things they’ve learned in class, according to Cook.

“Between 17% and 34% of what students learned in the previous year is lost over the summer,” she said. “We have found that if students receive quality reading instruction over the summer, we can mitigate these losses and even realize gains. And if we can help these students at least not suffer losses, they will not have this cumulative effect of always having to catch up at the beginning of the school year.

To discern where students need the most help, Cook and the other teachers who run the program review all of the school’s end-of-year tests.

“We also use other assessments, including phonetic assessment, to make sure we’re targeting the right areas for children to focus on,” she said. “We have a system that shows us what skills they lack and how to fix it.”

Teachers and students collaborate on what to read, Cook said.

“We have all the material, and we also want kids to enjoy what they read,” she said. the low. We want them to develop a passion for learning and a passion for reading.

The program also benefits students learning English as a second language, Cook said.

“We offer Spanish literacy to students who need it,” she said. “If we can strengthen the mother tongue of students who are learning a second language, it only helps them in the second language. And that was part of the decision to launch this program, because inequality only gets worse during the summer.

Throughout the program, Cook creates an individualized literacy chart that shows where each student was at the start of the summer and where they are at the end of the summer.

“We then pass this on to teachers at the start of the next school year, so there is no lag and students can pick up where they left off,” she said.

This helps teachers respond more effectively to needs, said McPolin Elementary School Principal Bob Edmiston.

“One of the benefits is that this data can be directly used the following year to build on those students’ learning plans,” he said.

Cook started McPolin’s summer reading program five years ago with a handful of his fellow teachers.

“We saw how much the students had lost, so we started volunteering our time and invited others to volunteer to help,” she said.

Until last year, reading program sessions were held at the Park City Library, Cook said.

“That changed last year with COVID, so we did it outdoors at City Park,” she said.

Edmiston invited Cook to facilitate the sessions at Treasure Mountain Junior High.

“Having Bob invite us to school, with the help of McPolin, will make a big difference this year,” Cook said. “We already have 67 children enrolled.”

Edmiston says the summer reading program is one of many projects that showcase the quality and dedication of teachers in the Park City School District.

“They identified the need, and the need is that a large portion of our students don’t have the opportunity to read and continue to engage in learning over the summer that others do,” said he declared. “So in an effort to support all students, they volunteered without pay to give up their summers to devote time to this program.”

Cook has seen the program grow over the past five years.

“It started with a few teachers and a handful of kids, and some of those kids are still coming in, along with their younger siblings,” she said. “Then we have some of their older siblings who volunteer.”


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