A new year is a time of new beginnings. Every child deserves a great beginning, no matter their socioeconomic status, race, or gender, and great beginnings start with each of us, just ordinary citizens, advocating for children everywhere. One of the best ways of advocating for children in Dallas ISD is through the instructional-focused, volunteer tutoring programs in many of our 144 elementary schools.
Data indicates that more than 60 percent of 5-year-olds in Dallas ISD are not ready for kindergarten when they start school. And a wide body of research shows that students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school, attend college or succeed in the workplace.
To be sure, every child can learn and succeed. But from day one, our teachers are charged with the responsibility of catching up thousands of students who begin school without the benefit of the educational head start that middle-class children typically have. These volunteer tutoring programs utilize a structured curriculum that is easy for volunteers to follow and that reinforces and coordinates with classroom learning.
The most important thing we can do as a community is to invest in our youth. By volunteering as a tutor for one hour a week, each of us can positively impact a student’s life. Every hour a volunteer spends tutoring a child is a step toward helping a child have a better life.
In District 3, there are 21 schools and more than 35 churches, synagogues and other faith-based institutions that provide volunteers. I thank them very much for their help.
Ordinary citizens can make extraordinary impact
If you have ever doubted the effect of community involvement on student outcomes, take a look at Lee McShan Jr. Elementary School in Vickery Meadow. McShan is one of the highest poverty schools in the district: 98 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged; it has a large refugee population; and 87 percent of the students at the school are English language learners.
Of all the district’s elementary schools, McShan had the highest score on Dallas ISD’s “school effectiveness index,” a measure of the school’s effect on student performance, taking into consideration known factors over which school personnel have no control, such as socio-economic status or language proficiency.
One big reason for the school’s success was the huge commitment made by Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, which provided an army of volunteers to tutor students in a reading tutoring program lead by Dalene L. Buhl. They have worked hand in hand with McShan’s outstanding team of educators.
White Rock United Methodist Church
Another example, among many others, is the support that White Rock United Methodist Church has provided to East Dallas schools over many years, including providing volunteers, use of space, and donations.
How to volunteer and get your faith-based institution involved
Show this to your pastor, priest, rabbi or other religious leader and suggest to him or her to get your faith-based institution involved.
Imagine what we could accomplish for children if every church, synagogue and other faith-based institution appealed to each of their members to dedicate one hour a week to tutor a student.
Check with your neighborhood school or visit: www.dallasisd.voly.org to start your remarkable journey.
Specialty school application workshop
The deadline to apply to a Dallas ISD specialty school is January 31, 2019. The district is hosting application workshops to help families who want to apply to a specialty school. The nearest workshop to District 3 is:
Tuesday, Jan. 22 | 6-8 p.m. | Solar Preparatory School for Boys at John F. Kennedy Learning Center | 1802 Moser Ave. | 75206
Come explore, design, build and create at the 2019 Dallas ISD STEM Expo, Saturday, Feb. 2 at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Visit www.dallasisd.org/stem for more info and to register.
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