Goodman Community Center | Volunteer Spotlight: START Literacy…

Volunteer Spotlight: START Literacy Initiative

May 24, 2024 |
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Currently in Wisconsin, only 35% of third graders are reading at or above grade level. Among Black students in Dane County that level falls to 10%, and schools don’t have the resources to provide students the support they need. That’s where programs like START Literacy, which started at Goodman in March with pilot training and tutoring sessions, come into play.

Started by Iris Patterson, who has decades of teaching and literacy experience in Madison’s schools, START Literacy follows the science of reading to help kids fill in the gaps. START stands for the Science of Reading, Trainings, Activities, Residencies and Tutoring, and it uses the collective power of volunteers — many experienced literacy professionals themselves — and high school or college students to reach an elementary schooler’s inner bookworm.

START has a team of 12 tutors who together spent two hours every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for 12 weeks using the best science has to offer our future readers. It is a large task that requires a lot of dedication on the part of the tutors, but the process is worth it. START volunteer Shan DiPiazza said, “Helping kids conquer the gaps in their phonics knowledge will quickly become the most rewarding part of your week, but the … program [flew] by too fast!”

Being a START tutor means getting to see firsthand the magic that comes out of learning to read. The process is a giant lesson in “confidence and perseverance,” according to DiPiazza. “Over the course of a few tutoring sessions, and a hefty amount of perseverance, [one student] went from struggling to read a few paragraphs to reading a complete story out loud to the entire group … it’s amazing to see the progress every week!”

The first session wrapped up in May but START has proven itself essential to those involved and our surrounding community and will be continuing with a kickoff event this fall. If you’re interested in learning more about START and the tutoring process, contact our Volunteer Manager, Susan, using the info below.

For more information about volunteering with START contact:

Susan Ramspacher

Volunteer Manager
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