Tecumseh schools cut 100 volunteers who help mentor students

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To the Editor,

In the board office meeting room on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, Kelly Coffin, superintendent of Tecumseh Schools, spoke to a room full of Hope mentors. They were disappointed to learn that their years of unpaid dedication to the children of Tecumseh had come to an end.

The program was created over 10 years ago to accommodate the needs of elementary pupils needing one-on-one help to gather much needed reading skills. Mentors known as Hope volunteers donated one morning per week to three hours of dedicated pupil centered games, reading, phonics, and sight recognition of age (6, 7, 8) and skill appropriate materials. These materials could use updating but the focus, content, and success of their program cannot be denied.

Many individuals in the room had mentored pupils for over 10 years as volunteers. Kelly spoke to the Hope volunteers telling them that they could work inside the classrooms as aides for math, spelling, reading, etc. They also were offered noon duties as lunch buddies or after school buddies’ time. The majority of mentors, many of which are retired teachers, felt the new duties could not substitute for the one-on-one help students received from the original program.

Hopefully, the parents of pupils who have flourished from the program we’ll encourage an updated Hope program to continue. The valuable time students spend with Hope mentors cannot be replaced with in-class peer group sessions. Many of these students can be easily distracted and the individual help cannot be underestimated.

I personally will miss the smiling faces of Hope pupils when they overcome their reading fears and become proficient and capable. I have seen several students move from these first, second and third grades to become excellent readers in future years.

Can we afford to disband over 100 free workers and mentors at a time when we want our tax dollars well spent? I think not!

Sue Ann Budwit
Hope Mentor
Tecumeh School District resident

p.s. The brunch was delicious. Thank you for years of sharing your fine pupils!

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