Puratos Chocolate USA Volunteers for United Way, Making a Difference in Kenosha County

Puratos chocolate usa volunteers, making a difference right here in our community

Through third grade, children learn to read.  From fourth grade on, they read to learn.  Research shows that third grade reading proficiency is a powerful predictor of later academic achievement.  A student who is not at least moderately successful in reading by the third grade is unlikely to graduate from high school.  Research also shows a strong link between higher literacy and future academic achievement, improved self-esteem and the ability to be a productive and involved member of society. 

The Readers Are Leaders Tutoring Program, a United Way-led initiative in partnership with Kenosha Unified School District, local businesses, and community members, provides young children in grades kindergarten through third grade with tutors on a regular basis to increase reading achievement in the early grades.

Through this tutoring program, United Way recruits and trains community volunteers who are then matched with children in the schools that are identified as needing additional help with reading.  The tutors and children work one-on-one for 30 minutes each week during the school year (October - May) and Summer School sessions (mid-June - July). 

The tutoring sessions are individualized and based on the student's needs and will supplement the work they are doing in the classroom.

The school district uses the Guided Reading Levels system in the classroom in small-group instruction as well as for independent reading.  When a child enters a new grade he or she is assessed and assigned a guided reading level based on word knowledge, comprehension and fluency.  The levels range from A to Z, with level A representing the lowest level.  This allows the teacher and tutors to work closely with each student to help them become better readers by introducing them to increasingly challenging books while meeting the varying instructional needs of each child in the room through guided reading.

Several employees of Puratos Chocolate USA participated in this tutoring program which allowed 5 more children the opportunity for 1:1 reading time to improve their reading levels .  Len Booth, Cheri Fredrick, Melissa Hobbs, Nisa Lyyski and Paula Schnorr donated 30 minutes a week to tutoring a child at McKinley Elementary School.  The group just attended the Appreciation Breakfast where the following information was received on the group of students they served.

Kindergartener A:  Grew 3 levels and is now reading at a level C.  He went from being a non-reader to reading! The end of the kindergarten expectation is D, he is sooooo close!

First Grader A:   Grew 4 levels, from a C to G

First Grader B:   Grew 7 levels, from B to I

First Grader C:   Grew 4 levels from C to G

Third Grader A: Grew 4 levels from N to R.  The end of third grade expectation is P, so he is reading above grade level now.

One student whose story brought tears to the eyes of many was most definitely the success story of the year.  He is a 3rd grader who was new to the school district for 2017/2018 and was only reading at a 1st grade level upon arrival.  With the help of his teachers and this United Way program, he grew 13 reading levels and at the end of 3rd grade is now reading at a 4th grade level.  His success may not have been so great if it were not for this program.    

The program has been so successful for McKinley that in the 2018/2019 school year, United Way of Kenosha County will partner with Building Our Future and Kenosha Unified School District to expand the Readers are Leaders Tutoring Program from one school to a total of four schools and the goal for this program will be to demonstrate detailed program outcomes which will be reported to the community and lead to further expansion into 2 additional schools in 2019/2020.