Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

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News: 08/15/2014

Young students need reading tutors

Not everyone in Wine Country begins their educational journey from the same place. Many local public school children arrive in Kindergarten and first grade without the skills they need to compete with their peers. Less than half (43 percent) of Sonoma County’s third-graders are proficient readers – and less than a quarter of the county’s English Language Learners are proficient readers.

If left unchecked, these trends threaten to do far more than make fourth grade more difficult; the children may struggle to catch up for the rest of their lives.

Schools of Hope, a program run by United Way of Wine Country, is trying to even up the equation. As the expression goes, “From kindergarten to third grade, children are learning to read; from fourth grade on, they read to learn.” If children aren’t up to speed by fourth grade, they’ll be four times less likely to graduate high school by age 19, and statistically more likely to spend time in jail or prison.

Now in its fifth year, Schools of Hope tutors have helped students learn 15 to 48 percent faster than similar, non-tutored students. Schools of Hope tutors meet with a child once or twice a week, practicing reading, writing and comprehension. The teachers choose the material children will work with, reinforcing what students learn in the classroom and giving them additional support on top of the help they receive at home. You don’t need to be a professional educator. Schools of Hope provides training and instruction, so as long as you have 30 minutes a week, you can make a huge difference to a young student.

Schools of Hope is currently looking for volunteers to work at Dunbar School, as well as other Sonoma Valley Unified Schools. If you are interested, contact Jimmy Wright, Schools of Hope Sonoma Valley Literacy Coordinator for United Way of the Wine Country at 528-4485, ext. 103. For more information go to

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