Posted by Doreen Higgins on Nov 18, 2019
We welcomed two teachers from Hesse Elementary School to a recent meeting. Our Rotary Club members have been reading volunteers at Hesse and Isle of Hope Elementary Schools for some time and continue to participate and enjoy helping children who need extra attention and reading assistance.
Our two teachers, Lila Duke and Cherie Dennis, have extensive experience teaching third grade as well as other ages and diverse duties at the school. They asked us to volunteer to help students who are having difficulties with reading, understanding, and vocabulary in grades K-3.

The teachers’ presentation showed us the “Bear Buddy” program, designed to help those children struggling with fluency and comprehension while offering an interesting and stimulating series of reading lessons. A “Bear Buddy” is a volunteer willing to work with one or more students; time with the students is 30-45 minute blocks on as many days of the week as a volunteer can manage (any time is appreciated). The materials are provided by the teachers and training is offered. The presentation we saw addressed the issue faced by some would-be volunteers, “What if I’ve never taught before?” and we were assured that we would be shown what to do. An example document was distributed at the meeting using the tale of “Goldilocks” and we saw a video of an imaginary class. The sentences in the story are just three or four words long, and the children are guided through various stages to assess their comprehension. They are introduced to some punctuation, to single and plural words, and asked for oral explanations by the teacher as they work through the story. Vocabulary issues are addressed throughout the session. The children are encouraged to read the story again by themselves and, in a later class, to read it aloud by themselves or chorally with the other children.

The simple procedure to sign up for this reading program was given to us. There is a link on which one can complete a Google form with volunteer information. Then the school district’s online Operation Beacon Volunteer Program application can be accessed; the specific online addresses for these two steps were made available to us. We thanked our teachers and some of us will be seen at the schools shortly; more information can be obtained via Ms. Cherie Dennis at
Below is a photo of Lila Duke, Lynn Gensamer and Cherie Dennis.