Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
WHEELERSBURG — The Project MORE reading program at Wheelersburg Elementary, along with local volunteers from RSVP, have been asked by the state to introduce the program into more schools across Ohio.
The statewide program began as the “Helping One Student To Succeed” (HOSTS) Program in Bowling Green in 1999 for elementary students who were behind in their reading skills. Eventually HOSTS was eliminated because it was too costly, and it was replaced with the “Mentoring in Ohio for Reading Excellence” (MORE) Program, which is funded with school Title I funding.
“The program was trying to look for ways to help children who possibly had IEPs (individualized education plans) who could have had some type of learning disability, as well as kids who were at-risk for reading failure,” said Tina Green, Project MORE Coordinator at Wheelersburg Elementary School. “It is all considered to be a one-on-one reading tutoring program.”
This year, nearly 150 community and high school volunteers working with the Project MORE program have provided reading assistance to about 70 students at Wheelersburg Elementary. She said the elementary students are excited about the program and enjoy working with MORE volunteers.
“Everything is individualized to the student, so a child can move at his own pace through the program. So you’re not held back by anything and you’re able to move on as quickly as you can. The goal, of course, is to try to get students reading on grade level. Most of our students come in reading below grade level at the beginning of the year. They make tremendous gain,” Green said.
About a week ago, Green was contacted by the state Project MORE office. She was asked if Wheelersburg would be interested in piloting a program with the RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteers Program) in Portsmouth to bring more retired volunteers into the program, and introducing that concept to other schools in Ohio.
The pilot program will be introduced slowly across the state, beginning with only five schools this spring.
“They want to see how this will work with the recruiting and see if it works pretty quickly; if they’re able to get it off the ground fast enough; if you can seat the mentors in with the students at a pretty quick rate. I think some areas of the state were concerned because a lot of the larger districts in northern Ohio use volunteers from different local companies that work for them. So some of them were not used to having some of the retired folks with that. Whereas that’s something I rely on heavily,” Green said.
She said retired volunteers have time for students, and show them a level of caring and attention that they need.
“It really educates the whole child. They’re not just learning reading lessons, they’re finding out about integrity, caring and compassion for others. It’s been just a really fantastic thing we’ve been able to see with our students,” Green said.
For more information about Project MORE at Wheelersburg Elementary, contact Green at 740-574-0641, or Scioto County RSVP at 740-353-8810.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org.