Volunteer helps first graders learn to read anything

Published 10:03 pm Monday, April 18, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - To honor the many community volunteers, the Niles Daily Star will feature those dedicated individuals who give of themselves to help others, during this National Volunteer Week.
Bob Cashbaugh has been working with children for a long time and he really enjoys it. Now that he is retired, he spends his free-time volunteering at Ellis Elementary School. Cashbaugh visits the classroom on Tuesdays with Mrs. Maiers first grade class.
His specialty is helping children to improve their reading skills.
Cashbaugh spends one and a half hours working with the kids one day a week and relishes their success. "I really like going one on one with the kids," he said. "Last year I had a group of seven kids who were in chapter books. This year I have four and I'll probably start another group before the school year is out," he said.
According to Cashbaugh, reading is crucial at the first grade level. They start out learning short stories with easier words, and advance to chapter books which increase the level of vocabulary, have longer stories, and contain subject matter that is more complex.
Answering an ad in the newspaper five years ago which expressed the need for classroom aids, Cahsbaugh felt right at home. He had been working with children in an after-school program in Berrien Springs aimed at providing healthy activities after school.
He also volunteers to help with the Boy Scouts who meet at the Berrien Springs United Methodist Church. "I act as a liaison between Troupe 547 and the church," Cashbaugh said.
An avid reader, Cashbaugh is part of the Friends of Howard Township Library. He also volunteers to work in the gift shop and help with children's programs at the historical 1839 Courthouse in Berrien Springs.
Graduating with a B.F.A. in Technical Theatre from Ohio University, he taught in the Watervliet, Freemont, and the Berrien Springs school systems. Cashbaugh was able to fulfill his lifelong dream of teaching at college level when he accepted the Director of Theatre at Southwestern Michigan College in 1992.
Now retired, he looks forward to his volunteer work.