Thanks to literacy volunteers

Published 9:15 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

Any educator will tell you a strong foundation in reading is essential to a child’s success in education.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, students who don’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times likelier to drop out of school.

And literacy levels affect more than just education. The vast majority of teens facing trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, as are more than 60 percent of all inmates of any age. Those with low literacy levels are more likely to be on welfare and be teen parents. Reports indicate that the rate of low literacy in the United States costs the health care industry more than $70 million each year.

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Suffolk is fortunate, however, to have quite a number of volunteers who are helping to improve literacy at all stages of life.

At West End Baptist Church, volunteers are conducting the Book Buddies program for children in kindergarten through third grade who are struggling with reading. The program was developed at the University of Virginia and Charlottesville City Schools. The tutors help children develop positive reading strategies using a unique lesson plan designed for each child’s reading capabilities. Each child even gets a book on his or her reading level.

The program is coordinated by Beth Pipkin, director of Children’s Literacy of Suffolk. It has been successful in helping many children throughout the four years it has already operated.

For the adults, the Suffolk Literacy Council does amazing work in Suffolk, tutoring dozens of clients every year. The council has branched out in recent years to tutor not just reading but also math, science and other subjects needed for people to earn their GED.

The council recently wrapped up its summer camp, where 12 adults learned about science. Some have already earned their GED and keep coming back to learn more.

We thank the many volunteers throughout Suffolk with all organizations who are helping their neighbors, whether they’re age 6 or 60, advance their education so that they can look forward to a better life.