Washoe school board honors Incline volunteers’ reading program | SierraSun.com

Washoe school board honors Incline volunteers’ reading program

Incline Elementary School site administrator Richard Mares says a few words about the Read With Me Volunteer Program and co-founders Roberta and Clay Klein, standing next to him, at Tuesday's Washoe County Board of Trustees meeting in Incline Village.
Margaret Moran / North Lake Tahoe Bonanza |

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Walking through Incline Elementary School on any given school day, one may see an adult non-teacher working with a student on his or her English reading and comprehension skills.

Yet ,what’s not visible is the work and dedication put in by part-time Incline Village couple Roberta and Clay Klein to ensure that scene in the school is a reality.

“You’re helping kids and giving kids the tools for their success in life, so thank you very much,” John Mayer, president of the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees, told the Kleins Tuesday. “The Board of Trustees thanks you from the bottom of our hearts.”

The Kleins were recognized with an Exceptional Volunteer Award at the school board’s Tuesday meeting at Incline High School.

It’s a monthly award given by the board to a school district volunteer who has completed 100 or more volunteer hours, has been nominated by a district staff person, and was selected by the district’s Exceptional Volunteer Committee.

“We appreciate the award, but we are accepting it on behalf of all 60 volunteers,” Roberta said prior to Tuesday’s board meeting. “They are the real heroes. It’s a great pleasure for us to work with the volunteers at the school (and) to see the progress.”

Modeled after an effort the Kleins organized in 2004 in the East Coachella Valley in Southern California, the Read With Me Volunteer Program got under way at Incline Elementary last school year.

The program brings volunteers recruited by the Kleins into the school, where each volunteer is assigned to a specific teacher who then pairs him or her with a child or children to assist.

During a tutoring session, the volunteer listens to the student or students read from assigned material and helps with English pronunciation and comprehension.

Incline Village resident Katherine Buckton, a Read With Me volunteer, said working with the students is a gratifying experience.

“The reward is to think you made an impact on a child’s life, a large impact,” she said. “If you can help someone who’s not able to read grasp language, (you can) change the course of their life. … It seems so simple, but it’s that simple.”

Research indicates that reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a milestone because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

“All knowledge is based on reading,” Roberta said. “If you’re not reading, you can’t go on. … You have to be able to read.”

Students who have not mastered reading by third-grade are more likely to drop out of school and struggle throughout their lives.

Since the implementation of Read With Me, improvements in student achievement has been noticed by teachers and recognized on a district benchmark assessment, said Richard Mares, site administrator for Incline Elementary School.

Maria Sauter, former implementation specialist for Incline district schools, added the following in a previous statement: “Incline Elementary School’s goal (last) year was to close the socio-economic achievement gap, and 100 percent of the kindergartners and over 60 percent of first and second graders who participated in Read With Me (last) year are at or above grade level benchmarks. I truly believe that the growth we made would not have been as great without Read With Me volunteers.”

The Read With Me program resumes in Incline Elementary this week, Roberta said, with a majority of last year’s volunteers returning.

“Roberta and Clay are just so well organized,” Mares said. “I’m just impressed by what they bring to the table . … I hope they never leave us and continue to run this program forevermore.”

To learn more about the Read With Me program or to volunteer, contact Roberta at robertaeklein@gmail.com.

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