Every Saturday morning at 10 a.m., the volunteers of the Gonzaga Literacy Center Tutoring program sit on the floor of Rosaur with their students. There are no desks or chairs, and the computer lab is often unavailable.
The director of the program, and an Education Professor at Gonzaga, Chris Reiber, hopes a grant will change that by providing think pads for the children to use when writing.
Reiber acquires names of struggling readers and writers from Principal referrals in the community, trains GU student volunteers, and then matches them up in a one-on-one tutoring pair. There are about 50 children currently in the program ranging from Kindergarten to Middle School ages.
For 10 years the School of Education has given additional, personalized instruction for struggling readers and writers in the Spokane community with funding from the Kappa Delta Pi organization fundraisers. Reiber is looking for grants that could expand the program, specifically the writing portion.
GU student volunteers believe the grant could help not only improve their students’ literacy, but their morale as well.
Isana Urquidi, a GU Freshman, said about her student, “I think the grant would reinforce the idea that people care about him, want to help him be a better student, improve, and succeed.”
In preparation for obtaining a grant, Saturday Morning Literacy is in the process of collecting evidence of student learning and improvement. “At this point, we are not able to secure any grant that has come to our attention without this data and evidence being available,” Reiber said.
Volunteers see improvement in their one-on-one tutoring sessions, even with obstacles such as language barriers.
Urquidi tutors an Eighth-grade student who emigrated from Thailand a couple years ago. She describes her student’s English as “rough” in both speaking and writing.
“I think his reading has been improving as we have been working together and it’s exciting to watch as he begins to recognize new words, but we still have a ways to go,” Urquidi said.
Alana Mosca, a GU Freshman, tutors a kindergartner from Berma who is reading at a Pre-K level.
“I like that Saturday morning literacy is getting a lot of under privileged kids out onto college campuses with other people who seem to really care about them and their success,” she said.
If the program receives a grant, Saturday mornings would be dramatically different.
“This grant would be incredible because right now, everyone works on the floors, so students aren’t exactly in a learning environment when they can’t even have a chair and hard surface in front of them,” Mosca said.
By Anna Clausen