Justus Gage super volunteer helps students read, achievePublished 7:00pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Diane Barrett-Curtis retired from her position with Southwestern Michigan College last September and is having no problem keeping busy.
We first met Diane when she visited as a volunteer reader for the United Way Day of Reading. On her retirement bucket list, she included her desire to volunteer as a reader or reading mentor with Dowagiac students. She lives right around the corner from Justus Gage and asked to be a volunteer at the school.
Diane knew that one of the goals in Dowagiac schools is to insure students are reading at grade level by the third grade.
With her experience, expertise and commitment to the community, she is a perfect volunteer and mentor for our students. She volunteers all day, two days a week, and works with seven teachers.
Fourth-grader Alanna Rosas-Rickard appreciates that Barrett-Curtis practices with her to read more fluently. Alanna says, when she doesn’t know a word, she gets help with an explanation and the meaning of the word. She credits Barrett-Curtis for helping her to reach her NWEA growth goal.
Third-grade teacher Carrie Soderbloom shared that Barrett-Curtis works with a large variety of students, including listening to the Young Author books. She works with not only the higher readers, but will read in a small group, or even one on one. She provides the students with some much-needed focused time with an adult. Soderbloom said she was very thankful and grateful that Barrett-Curtis is willing to help her third- grade class.
“Diane has been a great asset to our building. She has a great personality for working with elementary students and a strong reading background. In my classroom, she volunteers as a reading interventionist working with readers one on one utilizing our leveled readers. She shows up religiously and has touched the lives of every single student in my classroom. She has even surprised my students with holiday treats. I would love to have her be able to volunteer her time next year as well,” says fifth-grade teacher Bryan Henry.
“I can tell you she has worked with at least half of my students and they ALL want to work with her,” says Ashley Horvath, a fourth-grade teacher. “She treats the students with such respect and shares her knowledge with them about topics they are reading about. For example, she read with a literature group about John F. Kennedy and his life. She has shared many of her own personal memories of him with the kids — they LOVED IT! She also is always very flexible and willing to do any task. If I ask her to take two students to show them how to find clues to make an inference, she willingly does it. If I ask her to take a large literature circle and help them discuss and read a book, she will also do that. She has been instrumental in helping my students not only learn, but enjoy the books they are reading by sharing personal touches.”
Diane Barrett-Curtis has touched the lives of many, many students this year. We are very grateful she is volunteering to help our children become more successful readers and learners.
By MARCY HENDRESS
Principal, Justus Gage