A community organization helps children improve their reading skills

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Read Write Spell (RWS) is a community-based program based at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church that strives to ensure that every child in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WSFCS) learns to read at the grade level. RWS trains reading science tutors to better support needy students in WS/FCS.

RWS was first started as the Augustine Literacy Project and its initial goal was to provide free one-on-one tutoring to elementary school students who struggled with reading. In 2015, the organization became RWS to add other strategic components to also serve parents and public school educators.

Esharan Monroe-Johnson, Executive Director of RWS, started with RWS in 2016 as a volunteer tutor and now leads the daily operations of the organization.

“I became interested in Read Write Spell because I had children who struggled with literacy and saw the impact that a structured and just literacy approach the foundation of all our programs can have on a student’s progress through the grade,” Monroe-Johnson said. . “So that’s kind of how I got involved with Read Write Spell, because I wanted to do this for another kid.”

RWS partners with WS/FCS to help their primary school students who struggle with reading academically. RWS has also partnered with the Reading Warriors program, where they provide training for the program’s first-year tutors.

Currently, RWS is present in 18 county schools. The number of previous years is normally higher, but several factors have recently impacted their reach.

“I would say COVID has impacted some,” Monroe-Johnson said of the number of schools the program is running at. “When I started I think we were at 35 schools and we are normally at around 25 schools.

“Two things had an impact on that. One, COVID, and the other is that we’re trying to be a little more focused on the schools that we partner with.

Volunteer tutoring is currently the main component of the organization. Advancing students who struggle with reading is hard work, but RWS tutors are up for the challenge.

“Our goal is to help students reach their reading level,” she said. “We train volunteers and it’s a five-day course rooted in the science of reading and based on structured literacy.

“It’s a science-based, research-based approach to helping students who struggle with reading. Our objective is therefore to bring them to school level. In many schools and many students we work with, this takes time. Most of our students are at least one or two levels behind, so getting to that level takes time. »

To help improve their chances of success, RWS prefers that their tutors spend their time on the entire program with a student, which lasts a year and a half.

“We ask our tutors to commit to 60 lessons, which normally takes about three semesters if you watch twice a week, and they teach for 45 to 60 minutes,” she said. “We ask them to do it because that’s normally the time it takes to see progress. A lot of our tutors stay after that.

According to Monroe-Johnson, their students improve on average 1-2 grade levels in any given school year. However, if they are two levels behind, there is more work to do with that student.

RWS is always looking for new tutors. Depending on how much time they need to commit to training, children will determine which program is best for a potential tutor.

“We are looking for volunteers in two different ways,” she said. “For our traditional Augustine Literacy Project program, it’s a more intense program, so we’re looking for someone who has five days to invest in the training and who has time during the week, between two and four hours, when you calculate the lesson plan and then you deliver the lesson to the student, so it’s a more intense program.

“We are also recruiting for Reading Warriors and for Reading Warriors we are looking for anyone who has the time to commit twice a week, 30 minutes with a student, and can invest two days, that’s just 12 hours of training for the Reading Program warriors.

For Monroe-Johnson, it’s hard for her to be happy about the hard work she’s doing because there are so many children in need. She says she has hope for the future because there are organizations like RWS that are making a tangible impact and the school system supports them.

For more information about Read Write Spell, you can email them at [email protected]badreadwritespell.orgvisit the website at www.readws.org/becometutoror call 336-779-1300.

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