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SCV launches ‘Read with Me!’ program

Seniors volunteer to read to youngsters

Posted: September 14, 2008 6:17 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.

It's not just fairy tales that a group of senior citizens will be sharing with Newhall Elementary School students; they're hoping to share some life lessons as well.

The new Read With Me! program offered through the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation gives senior citizens an opportunity to read to young students every Friday to share a bit of their enthusiasm for learning.

The program is inspired from a literacy program and a foster grandparent program.

The eight volunteers will rotate among 29 classrooms at Newhall Elementary School and in small groups, will read to the students individually or in small groups, said Ann Unger, executive director of the SCV Education Foundation.

The seniors visit the school every week and spend about two hours with the students. Volunteers can request a particular grade level they are interested in working with. Volunteers made a six-month commitment to help out.

Another group of volunteers will soon begin reading to students at McGrath Elementary School, she said. She hopes to eventually have enough volunteers to read to students at every elementary school in the Santa Clarita Valley.
"We have a great resource and a great need in our schools for the extra support," Unger said. "(The volunteers) have quite a history to share with the students."

Unger said she reached out to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center for her first batch of volunteers.
Robin Clough, director of recreation and volunteers at the Senior Center, said she put up a flyer at the Senior Center and was amazed by the response.

"I put up a flyer and got 25 phone calls," she said.
The seniors will be good mentors for many of the kids, said Beverly Knutson, assistant superintendent of human relations for the Newhall School District.

"Some of these children don't have grandparents," she said. "This is a wonderful opportunity for them to interact with someone elderly. They are helping those kids learn to read."

Newhall Elementary School Principal Tim Lankford said, "Their life experience will have a positive impact on student achievement here."

The volunteers at Friday's orientation couldn't wait to open a book and start reading to the kids.
Marje McKenna said she wants to encourage kids to step away from their computer screens and get lost in a book instead.

Volunteer June Green said when she gets started on a good book, she can't put it down. She wants to pass that enthusiasm onto a younger generation.

"Reading is so enjoyable. I don't think a lot of parents read with their kids anymore," Green said. "I think children need to read."

For more information or to volunteer for the Read With Me! program, call the SCV Education Foundation at (661) 414-4465 or e-mail


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