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Reading group helps students excel

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Two years ago Rosemount Family Resource Center volunteer Judy Good noticed that kids who frequented the center were struggling with their homework. So she started a program to help them, run entirely by volunteers.

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The resource center operates as part of the Community Action Council. The CAC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting people out of crisis through community based centers that help individuals in need throughout Dakota County.

Homework help

Through the school year the volunteers help kids with mathematics, spelling and whatever else comes up twice a week from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Most of the volunteers are former ISD 196 teachers.

During the homework help session kids can usually get one on one help from the volunteers, although sometimes it's one-on-three. Good said the attention kids get is similar to tutoring.

"If a kid is struggling with a concept a teacher with 28 kids can't get to each kid for one-on-one, we can," she said.

After two years of offering the after school program at the center, Good said they have seen students thrive.

"We have gotten notes from their teachers saying 'thank you, thank you, thank you'," said Good.

Reading club

This year the volunteers who make the after school program possible decided to supplement the homework help with a summer reading program.

The Club Bookhouse is held twice a month on Tuesdays in coordination with when the Dakota County Bookmobile is at the resource center. The club, said volunteer Elvie Frisbee, exposes the kids to literature that they wouldn't necessarily get exposed to any other way.

During the two hour club meetings the kids participate in a variety of activities, including a trip to the Bookmobile to get something to read, games, crafts and stories. It's all meant to be fun and get the kids, most of whom are in elementary school, interested in reading.

Rolling in on a hot Tuesday afternoon the children in the club are excited to get started. They proudly pin on their name tags and get ready for activities to begin. After a trip to the Bookmobile the kids hunker down to read.

Although things are a little crazy during the summer months, at the center the group is able to find a quite room to sit and read. Frisbee said about a dozen kids show up for each meeting.

Each club meeting has a theme. On June 24 the kids learned about fairy tales and fables.

While being part of a summer reading program may not seem like that big of a deal. For the kids involved it is the only exposure some of the kids get to reading, said Good.

"Kids deserve to be given a fair chance and that's what we want to give to them, an extra boost," said center coordinator Shira Rabinowicz.

Kindergarten prep

In addition to the summer reading group the volunteers will run a kindergarten preparation course in August for kids who couldn't attend early education classes.

Because of funding cuts, Good said there is no transportation provided for kindergarten readiness classes, which means some kids don't get to attend. That means those kids are behind even on their first day of elementary school.

"It's a tragedy," said Good.

Wanting to give kids going to kindergarten this fall at least a little boost the volunteers decided to offer an intensive class to help them succeed. Frisbee said kids will learn things like numbers, shapes, colors and letters.

All volunteer

All the programs starting with the homework help are volunteer run and receive no formal funding. The resource center lets them use their supplies and resources, which are limited.

While the job is sometimes frustrating, Good said the volunteers work with what they have and enjoy it.

"We love kids and we know there's a need," said Frisbee.

Since the homework group started Rabinowicz said the volunteers have been a blessing to the kids.

"We can't do it alone, we need people to get involved. That's what were all about here," said Rabinowicz.

For more information on the Rosemount Family Resource Center contact the Community Action Council at 952-985-5300. More information is available on the CAC's web site at www.communityactioncouncil.org.

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