Students volunteer with literacy campaign

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    TCU students have the opportunity to volunteer with a program that strives to eradicate illiteracy in Fort Worth Independent School District’s elementary schools.

    Read2Win, a collaboration between Fort Worth ISD and Tarrant NET, is a volunteer literacy campaign that provides a reading coach to every elementary school student needing help with reading. This year, Read2Win has been implemented at 34 of the district’s 85 elementary schools.

    Read2Win reached out to the TCU Department of Spanish and Hispanic Studies in 2012 when the campaign began, said Karla O’Donald, Spanish instructor and volunteer coordinator. 

    The district-wide component started this month for the 2014-2015 school year.

    Originally seeking TCU students enrolled in Spanish courses to assist Spanish-speaking children, the program has also welcomed others who want to help children improve their English reading skills.

    Makenzie Burnett, first-year nursing major, said the opportunity was recently brought up in her Spanish class. She said she felt the need to volunteer since its initial mention.

    Spending an hour every week as a reading coach at Mary Louise Phillips Elementary, Burnett said she meets with the same child each visit as well as any others who may need help.

    “The fact that we are consistently coming and volunteering with them every week, I feel like it’s more of a support system than anything else,” Burnett said.

    Burnett said she also got her roommate, first-year nursing major Haley McGeorge, involved with Read2Win.

    McGeorge said she is a reading coach with Read2Win because she volunteered with a similar program throughout high school and likes being an asset to the children.

    “It’s awesome because you’re helping them with their reading,” McGeorge said. “A lot of them have trouble and they love having someone there who can help them.”

    Jennifer Kennedy, head of volunteer reading programs at Mary Louise Phillips Elementary, said she has seen an impact on the children’s “desire to learn how to read and their motivation.”

    “The reading volunteer serves as a mentor, where the child starts associating happiness and pleasure with reading so that intrinsically it becomes a desire to read,” Kennedy said.

    Read2Win hopes to eliminate the literacy deficit of elementary school-aged students, striving to assign a volunteer to every child needing help in all Fort Worth ISD elementary schools, according to the campaign’s website.

    “It’s a very humbling experience,” Burnett said. “I benefit in the fact that I become so much more grateful for the things that I have in my life, especially in terms of education.”