I have been very impressed with this organization. The quality of the staff I've met is great and the training they offer is very helpful. The curriculum is well put together and they make it easy for people who want to volunteer, but have busy schedules. Your time commitment can be as little as 45 minutes a week, but you feel like you are actually making a difference in a child's life. I am able to do this before I go to work in the mornings. I have done a lot of volunteering and worked in the schools for years, and I like what I see here. My volunteering is in Redwood City.
Reading Partners seems to be one of the better run Americorps program because there are adequate checks and balances built into the system, solid administrative structure, decent training, reasonable hours, and accountability maybe not just on paper. The idea of enhancing reading opportunities in urban areas seems nice. The curricula is well-designed, but there should be more flexibility with regard to implementation. RP's hiring practices seems to favor upper middle income white (and male) students. There are few minorities hired to work for Reading Partners, and this also was reflected at the charter school setting I volunteered at this year.
As to why the numbers of charter schools are skyrocketing , rife unemployment, and growing gaps between rich and poor at a time when multinational financiers are reaping record profits with the need for tax write-offs via charities...sadly or ironically, it actually justifies Reading Partners in order to alleviate the burdens of over-sized classrooms or the newbie mostly young white teachers hired via Teach for America or other skeletal recruitment programs. So, for instance, at the most recent charter school I volunteered at, over 80% of their staff were under thirty and inexperienced, and yes, age and race discrimination seemed pretty obvious, they being all mostly white and under thirty. It makes you feel that they cannot consider someone as old and overqualified as me to work there, such a crying shame, so it seems there is a lot of initial built-in rigidity with regard to hiring practices.
If you are an experienced older worker, you may not enjoy being a cog in the wheel for a younger person who strikes you as sort of a blockhead typecast wannabee unconscious authoritarian, but then again, there is some enjoyment in watching the students enjoy reading on their own. Keep repeating that last phrase like a mantra to yourself, especially if you are in the education field and underemployed. (Incidentally or not, it was a 100% black student body for vanilla chocolate creme cookie snapshot of the staff/student/auxiliary ratios).
Regarding employment, RP uses Job Score, a cheesy virtual placement firm, to help sort through the masses of applications. Again, it seems mostly about age, race, connections, and check-off criteria, how that computerized routine works. Don't count on being hired to work for them, and if you are selected, well great, welcome to the Elect.
I tutor once a week in an Oakland, CA public school and find that the curriculum is easy to work with. The staff are very friendly and helpful. It's wonderful to see my student making progress and really improving her reading skills. I love what Reading Partners is doing to help the various struggling readers around the country.
I retired from full time teaching and wanted to stay involved in education. Reading partners gives me that opportunity. I am able to use my expertise and knowledge to help students I work with. I have seen students grow and teachers are appreciative of the extra help that is given.
Reading Partners has a great model for partnering with schools and engaging significant numbers of volunteers in improving kids' reading skills. The curriculum takes tutors and students step-by-step through learning to read and improving their comprehension, based on staff assessment of the student's current reading skills. As I am not a teacher by training, I have really appreciated the curriculum and the support the staff provide. Volunteers work one-on-one with the same student each week during the school year, and I am grateful to have come to know some of these students.
I have been volunteering with Reading Partners for about 6 months. I absolutely adore this program. Not only is it a great resource for kids who are falling behind, it's also an awesome volunteer opportunity for adults who are VERY busy. I'm an entrepreneur, and although my work schedule is flexible, I still don't have a lot of hours per week to devote to volunteer work. My weekly commitment to Reading Partners is exactly TWO hours, including the drive! And for that small amount of time, I'm making a HUGE difference in the life of a child.
When I first joined Reading Partners, I expected to find students who were resistant to learning and annoyed by having to participate in the program. Never in a million years did I think I would see kids excitedly running to join us, eager to give up their recess and time with friends to have the one-on-one attention of a tutor. It's an amazing program, and I highly recommend it.
I have been volunteering with Reading Partners at an elementary school in Mountain View for the past three years. It matches adult volunteer tutors with children who are about a grade behind in their reading skills. Most of the children served are English language learners. It has a well thought through curriculum, combining books and worksheets, with a lot of supporting material in the reading center so tutors can mix things up, using games, flash cards, books, white boards for writing, and so on. Younger children are typically worked on a basic reading course, from alphabet to phonics, while the younger children are working on comprehension. The program does not believe that being able simply to read the words is enough. Children learn to retell stories, identify characters/settings, pick out story morals and so on. One weakness is that the center directors typically change every year because they are drawn from Americorps. That said, the center directors seem to get good support from the organization and are very helpful in suggesting new approaches with the kids.
I have been working with Reading Partners for a full year. I have found them to be extremely dedicated people. They have good resources and very good people.
Reading Partners provides a very thorough training for those that believe reading is a must to a successful life. I firmly believe that this organization will reach many children that would otherwise be left far behind. With the school funding not being able to provide anything extra, this program gives schools anotoher option to service their students. Everyone at Reading Partners has been positive and definitely have a passion for this very important need. I have had a wonderful experience so far with this organization.
I've been a tutor at Reading Partners for 3 years and have had nothing but great experiences. The program is well organized and has a curriculum that makes me feel like I'm making a difference each time I tutor. Space in the program is limited so kids who participate are there because they really want to learn. And the staff is organized and helpful. I highly recommend this program.