AIKEN - Public Education Partners has trained more than 500 mentors in a program aimed at helping children get a tighter grasp on reading.
The mentors go through an hour and a half of training to be a part of the Great Leaps Reading program, said Diane Mangiante, the executive director of Public Education Partners.
The most recent training session occurred Friday at the Pinecrest Center, where 10 adults were trained to work with children and aid them in learning how to read.
Great Leaps uses volunteer mentors who work with an assigned child every day for 10 minutes.
Donald White, of Beech Island, was one of the adults at the training session. He said he wants to participate in the program because he understands how it felt in school to fall a little behind.
"A lot of kids are slipping through the gaps. They aren't able to get a good, firm education and learn to read well," he said. "I had dyslexia at one time, and actually I still have a little bit of it. I know what it's like to struggle while wanting to accomplish something in life.
"If I can help others, maybe I can help myself, too."
Ms. Mangiante said the training sessions focus on teaching the mentor how to reinforce good reading skills and correct mistakes in an encouraging way. The mentor is taught how to chart the pupil's daily progress.
The pupil meets with the mentor every day and reads for three minutes. One minute is dedicated to sentences, another to phonics and the last minute to read part of a story. The remaining time is spent going over the child's progress and evaluating the three-minute reading.
"Every time they read, they get a grade," she said. "There's no waiting for a nine-week test or a test at the end of the year, and that's very motivational."
Twelve schools in Aiken County utilize the Great Leaps Reading program, Ms. Mangiante said.
Reach Sara Bancroft at (803) 279-6895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.