Your Donations in the Classroom – Reading Partners at Muir

Your donations to the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation go to support amazing projects, like the Reading Partners tutoring program at John Muir Elementary.

Reading Partners, a nationally known organization, provides trained volunteers to read with students in grades K – 4. At each school in which it operates, Reading Partners transforms a space into a designated “Reading Center,” places an AmeriCorps member on site to coordinate the program, and recruits a corps of 40 to 100 volunteers. Volunteers work one-on-one with selected students twice a week in 45-minute tutoring sessions. Reading Partners uses a research-based curriculum to foster students’ early literacy and reading comprehension skills. Erin Croix, Muir’s Reading Partners site coordinator, oversees the program. She manages the logistics of selecting and assessing students, matches them with tutors, and supervises the Reading Center where the tutoring takes place. Over 65 students have been assigned to tutors so far. Reading Partners gets results! In a 2014 report, the program was found to effectively increase students’ literacy skills. At Muir, Erin noted that students are meeting or surpassing their end-of-year reading goals. “I’m pleasantly surprised to see our students moving ahead so quickly!” Erin has recruited a number of volunteers from the Muir neighborhood. Some are retired teachers. Others are students at Santa Monica College, or even high school students who tutor after school hours as part of a service learning project. On a recent visit to Muir’s Reading Center, Rose Cheng, a Reading Partners program manager for several Los Angeles area schools, stopped by and filled in as a tutor. As her tutee read aloud with expression and ease, Rose used a stopwatch to time her for fluency. “Wow,” she exclaimed, “you got all the way to page eight and the end of the book in only 38 seconds. Great job! Do you want to see if you can beat your own record? Ready, set, go!” Tutoring sessions typically begin with the tutor reading to the student, followed by discussion of the story. Other components of the lesson vary, depending on the age and reading level of the student. At a recent session, a student played a a board game designed to reinforce phonics skills with her tutor. Phonemic awareness and phonics are critical to early literacy. Playing games, exploring language, and manipulating letter sounds make the learning fun. The student rolled a six and landed on a picture of a can. With the help of her tutor, she identified the sounds in the word and wrote the letters on her slate.  All of the books, games and materials that are part of the Reading Partners curriculum are funded by SMMEF. They reinforce the rigorous California standards for English Language Arts that are being taught in the classroom. Learn more about SMMEF-funded programs at Muir and all SMMUSD schools on our Programs by School page.