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United WE READ seeks volunteers to mentor young readers

January 8th, 2014 9:03 am by Katina Rose

United WE READ seeks volunteers to mentor young readers

Reading is a fundamental component to a successful academic career. But what most people do not realize is that a student’s reading level in the third grade is a crucial indicator of future success.

United WE READ was formed in the Greater Kingsport area, within the two school systems of Kingsport City and Sullivan County, to help ensure that children are college- and career-ready upon graduation from high school. 

The goal is that, by the end of third grade, all students will be on reading grade level. To reach this goal, the assistance of caring volunteers in the community is required. United WE READ wants to engage supporters to build a literacy-rich community through volunteering, mentoring and tutoring.

United We READ is supported by a Steering Team, consisting of the directors of Kingsport City Schools and Sullivan County Schools; the Vice President of Community Relations and Corporate Services from Eastman Chemical Company; the Executive Director of Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority; and the Executive Director of the United Way of Greater Kingsport.

United WE READ programs, to date, include: a Summer Backpack Program, in which a backpack with three books and a guided reader journal was provided to second-graders at two elementary schools; A ReadingPlus program with 24 members of Girl Inc., in which 7 of the 24 girls increased their reading level by an entire grade level; and a Summer Book Club with after-school/summer care organizations that reached approximately 500 children.

A volunteer reader program was launched at four elementary schools: Andrew Johnson and Andrew Jackson elementary schools in Kingsport and Ketron and Sullivan elementary schools in Sullivan County. The goal of the volunteer reader program is to assist students who are close to becoming proficient readers, but need a little more assistance and time on reading skills.

“We want the entire community to rally around the common goal because of the benefits foundational reading skills in the primary stage will bring to our overall community,” said 

Andy True, strategy team leader for United WE READ and chief information officer for Kingsport City Schools.

“The volunteers are a key element in the success of this program. We are looking for more volunteers to work with kids in schools and after-school programs. This is a long-term project but, because of the work we are doing now, we will have a more educated workforce in our community’s future.”  

If you are interested in donating your time, United WE READ is looking for more volunteers to make this program a success. Volunteering to read with a child for 20 to 30 minutes a week or bi-weekly can make a difference in a child’s academic success and in the future of our local community.

If you are interested in alternative ways to get involved, volunteers are also needed to assist with special events and to help children in an after-school/summer care setting (i.e., Kingsport Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., etc.). Donations of new or gently-used books are also needed.

Joining United WE READ is simple and easy. You can sign up to be a volunteer by completing the United WE READ volunteer registration form on the website at Simply click on the VOLUNTEER tab, locate the “How Can I Help?” page, click on the United WE READ logo, and complete and submit the United WE READ volunteer registration form. Or call the UWGK office at 423-378-3409.

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