‘Reading For Change’ offers free reading help

TROY — A free after-school program to help children who are reading below their grade level is available for students in grades K-4. Enrollment is taking place now, however students may enter the program anytime throughout the school year.

Reading For Change, 105 S. Market St., Troy, began five years ago with a simple mission: to be a safe, yet challenging environment for kids to learn literacy and life skills.

“This program has proven successful in helping students make huge strides in their reading,” executive director Shelly Calvert said. “We assess the students when they begin our program and track their progress. The best indicator of better reading skills is improved grade cards. That’s our favorite thing to see.”

Reading For Change meets on Mondays and Wednesdays after school until 5:30 p.m. A snack is provided prior to tutoring and homework help is given.

“We are able to support what students are learning at school with our staff of volunteer teachers who make reading fun for the kids,” said Carianne Gaines, RFC’s program director. “It’s about showing kindness and love to the kids while giving them ways to learn to love reading.”

The teachers at Reading For Change are retired or current intervention or reading specialist teachers. In addition, adult and student volunteers are on hand to help with homework, to read to the kids and to listen to the students read aloud.

The program includes trained Orton-Gillingham teachers for dyslexic readers.

“We are pretty much one-on-one or groups of two or three with the Orton-Gillingham students,” Gaines added. “All of the teachers are very creative and caring, and they tailor their knowledge to the needs of each student.”

The 2019-2020 RFC program has seen growth with new staff members blended with volunteers who have been with the program since its inception in 2015. Created by Ethan and Ali Martin, the program was inspired by Ali’s love of teaching and her desire to provide a way for students to receive free tutoring by reading specialists. In 2017, Troy City Schools intervention specialist Betsy Widener launched the Orton-Gillingham program.

The RFC reading specialist team includes Mary Beth George, Connie Burgei, Jill Patrick, Beth Landfair, Tricia Fellers, Carianne Gaines, Patricia Shindollar, Dawn Cretsos and Angie Clouser.

Before and after the students receive tutoring, the children gather together to talk about kindness, respect, responsibility and other character lessons, usually taught by the reading aloud of a book and lively conversations.

Reading For Change is a warm, welcoming and cheerful space on the second floor of the Ark & Echo building in downtown Troy. A large supply of books is available to students for reading while they are at RFC, and there is a supply of books for the kids to take home with them.

Parents may receive an application for their child by emailing carianne@readingforchange.com or by visiting 105 S. Market St. and picking up and dropping off the application in the “info box.”

Contact Shelly Calvert with any questions, at (937) 524-3097.