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Hillsborough Schools Need ‘ReadingPals’

Two training sessions are scheduled this month. Both are within a short drive of New Tampa.

It only takes an hour a week to make a difference in a child’s life.

That’s the message organizers behind Hillsborough County’s ReadingPals program are hoping to get out. Put together by SERVE and United Way, ReadingPals partners volunteer tutors with youngsters enrolled in Hillsborough County public elementary schools.

“Our goal is to ensure that more children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade,” said Debra Blossom, program manager for Hillsborough County schools. “Children who are read to are more likely to become good readers. And children who read at grade level by the fourth grade are four times more likely to graduate from high school. High school graduates earn more, make better choices, use fewer social services and stay out of trouble.”

To help new ReadingPals recruits get into the program, two upcoming training sessions are planned:

  • Jimmy B. Keel Regional Library, 2902 W. Bearss Ave. This session is set for Oct. 11 from 3 to 5 p.m.
  • Temple Terrace Public Library, 202 Bullard Parkway. This session runs Oct. 16 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Volunteers need to be adults committed to spending a least one hour a week for 25 weeks reading to school-aged children. They must also fill out a SERVE volunteer application and submit to a School District of Hillsborough County Level 2 background screening, Blossom said.

Once trained and screened, volunteer ReadingPals can help out at designated school sites throughout the county.

Why should volunteers get involved?

“People should get involved if they believe that the future of our state rests in the hands and minds of our youngest,” Blossom said. “Reading mentors can help change the story of many children and significantly increase graduation rates in our community by volunteering to assist children with reading skills for one hour a week for 25 weeks.”

To find out more about the program, call Blossom at 813-872-5254, Ext. 226, or email debra.blossom@sdhc.k12.fl.us. More information is also available on the SERVE website.

Do you know an outstanding volunteer in the New Tampa community? Let us know about the person in the comments section or email John.majeski@patch.com.

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