Durham Rotary wraps up second year of reading program

Jun. 28, 2014 @ 12:29 PM

A volunteer tutoring program created by The Durham Rotary Club to promote student literacy at Y.E. Smith Elementary School and Neal Middle School wrapped up its second school year with good results and plans for growth.

“Over the past two years, we have had 87 tutors, learned a lot and are in a great position to move forward,” Todd E. Taylor, vice president of Durham Rotary and founder of “The Rotary Reading Rangers” project, said.  The club partnered with the East Durham Children's Initiative to pair individual, trained volunteer tutors with select K-5 students at Y.E. Smith.

“Ultimately, we would like to expand into other schools, but it takes volunteers,” Taylor said.

The club also partners with other literacy organizations.  For example, Books on Break, a cornerstone program of Book Harvest, made its Y.E. Smith debut May 6 with the help of volunteers from Durham Rotary.  Overall, about 60 volunteers served as personal assistants for 407 students who filled book bags provided by Rotary with 10 books each. The students keep the books and keep reading skills sharp over the summer. 

This year, the rangers had nearly 40 tutors who volunteered more than 525 hours of one-on-one support to more than 30 students.  School Principal Letisha Judd said that this school year some students have shown measurable reading progress of up to a year-and-a-half of growth in six months.

The Rangers program is open to all interested people – with or without Rotary affiliation – who are willing to volunteer.

“We can accommodate all schedules,” Taylor said.  “We like to get a minimum of one hour per week at the school but we will take whatever time people have to offer.  My co-workers at Duke Corporate Education work in pairs to cover the time.”

The Rangers are backed by other Rotary clubs in Durham and across the Triangle region and District 7710, home to 46 clubs.  Rotary has contributed more than $24,000 to Durham literacy and scholarship programs, collected over 54,000 books to give to local children, and provided nearly $100,000 in school supplies and donations to area programs.

To learn more visit http://durhamrotaryclub.org/rotary-reading-rangers/.