Bethesda News

Building a Passion For Reading

by Sue Henke, Community Center Volunteer

The Reading Program at the Community Center has been in existence since Fall 2014. It began with a group of dedicated men who wanted to make a difference.  The idea for the Reading Program began because there seemed to be an increase in students who struggled with reading. We wanted to give them an opportunity to grow and learn as much as possible.  We have had students who were two to three reading levels below their grade level. “Reading is Fundamental” is a commonly used phrase, but it is a reality one cannot avoid. The ability to read creates educational opportunities, job opportunities, spiritual growth through Bible study, and much more.  Sue Henke has been one of our faithful volunteers since 2016, and, as a retired teacher, has taken on the responsibility for this program in order to help equip the other volunteers with resources that she has learned throughout her teaching career. -Serina Brown, Director


As a volunteer at the Community Center since 2016 I am excited about the direction the reading program has taken.  My initial draw was the need for after-school tutors and Thursdays were the perfect fit for me. “Program Lite” is a special day of the week where students rotate every 40 minutes between gym activities, homework room, and crafts/free time options.  The reading room is an additional component for students grades 1-6 who may need additional support.

Currently there are 11 students who are assisted by several volunteers each week to improve the children’s reading comprehension skills. The volunteers come from all career backgrounds: state employees, a financial planner, The Director of the Performing Artist Series at HACC, and a Daymon Interactions employee. I am a retired elementary school teacher so this was right up my alley.  When Serina asked me to oversee the reading room I was delighted!  The other volunteers and myself work on phonemic awareness, fluency, oral reading, and understanding text through board games, Readers’ Theatre, and age appropriate books and worksheets.

We have all developed a rapport with the kids and some of the relationships have evolved over several years. The men provide positive role models and we all take pride nurturing our charges even if it’s only for an hour each week.  Please continue to pray for the development of our reading program. Pray about whether you would like to come help a student become a better reader. Right now, we assist 11 students, but there are many more who could use a dedicated individual that is passionate about seeing children become all they have been created to be.

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