From preschool to third grade, children learn to read; from fourth grade on, they read to learn. Once a child falls behind in reading, chances for academic and economic success are dramatically diminished.
The mission of Hartford Jewish Coalition for Literacy (HJCL) is to build and improve the reading skills of pre-kindergarten to grade three educationally at-risk students in public school districts in Greater Hartford, CT. This is done by recruiting, training, and placing volunteers to read with these students, one-to-one or in small groups, on a consistent weekly basis. HJCL further expands the students' reading horizons through the annual donation of a book to each student and student's classroom.
The three educational components of the HJCL program are:
1) Elementary Express - core component; adult reads 30 minutes per week, throughout the school year, with kindergarten-grade three students. The three segments of each session is to read aloud to the child, shared reading and independent reading by the child.
2) Reading Buddies - middle school students read 30 minutes per week for a four week period with a kindergarten student.
3) Preschool Pals - adults or students read with a pre-kindergarten student for 15 minutes (3 year olds) or 30 minutes (4 year olds) for a 10 week period.
Each and every volunteer must complete a reading mentor training which is led by a literacy specialist.
By the end of the 2011-2012 school year, HJCL’s 14th year, volunteers had conducted over 68,000 reading sessions with more than 4,000 children. More than 4,000 new books have been donated to students and their classrooms participating in our program.
Feedback from School Staff:
“I am so grateful for all of the mentors and people that have been involved with my students. Your dedication, time, effort has paid in more than reading gains. Self-esteem, vocabulary, language development and motivation are a few areas where I have seen them grow. I can’t thank you enough.”
– Teacher, Lincoln Elementary School, New Britain.
“All of our children look forward each and every week to their sessions with your experienced, dedicated and committed staff from the Hartford Jewish Coalition for Literacy. We have not just seen reading skills improve ...but also tremendous growth in self-esteem, confidence, and a belief in themselves. I truly appreciate the effort you and your staff put forth to help our kids who need intensive support and intervention in order to achieve success in school.”
– Principal, Anna E. Norris Elementary School, East Hartford
“’Gemma’ has come a long way! She might have been retained if not for the support of this program.”
– Teacher, Core Knowledge Academy at Milner, Hartford
Feedback from Volunteers:
“Through the year I watched their reading skills grow from letter recognition and letter sounds to ‘decoding’ words and finally the joy of beginning to read. They (and I) were so proud of their accomplishment!”
– Volunteer for kindergarten students, Burr Elementary School, Hartford
"Early in the school year the third grade boy that I worked with read a book and experienced difficulty decoding quite a few words and needed my assistance. Later in the school year he read the same book again and he had very little difficulty. As the school year progressed, I saw a positive change in his level of self-confidence.” – Volunteer for third grade student, Wolcott Elementary School, West Hartford.
HJCL is a program of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and is an affiliate of the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy. Major funding is provided by the Jewish Community Foundation, the Travelers Companies, Inc., SBM Charitable Foundation and the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Fund and the Samuel Roskin Trust at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
For more information, contact Erik Martin, Program Coordinator at (860) 236-READ (7323).