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Impacting My Community with the Turn of a Page

Retired librarian gives back by tutoring with United Way

The Midlands Reading Consortium (MRC) is a volunteer tutoring initiative designed to increase language development, reading proficiency and encourage a child’s love for reading. MRC provides one-to-one in school tutoring for pre-K through 2nd grade students.

Janina, a retired librarian of 27 years, has been a volunteer tutor with MRC for six years. She began tutoring at JP Thomas Elementary School for 30 minutes every morning on her way to work at the library.

“I did not feel comfortable tutoring in the beginning,” says Janina. “I knew I wanted to do it, but I wasn’t sure I knew how. I wasn’t sure about one-on-one time with a child and teaching them how to read because it’s been a while, my children are grown up and there’s a giant gap. I began to feel more comfortable with suggestions from the teachers and other people who have done it. I had a lot of resources at my disposal which is so great about this community.”

Following her retirement, Janina chose to continue tutoring closer to home at Pontiac Elementary School. This past school year, she tutored two kindergarteners.

“I have definitely seen improvement with one of my students. She began the year very timid. But she’s been working at home, working in the classroom, and she has been very receptive to the one-on-one time,” says Janina. With my other student, when she doesn’t know a word, she backs off and doesn’t want to do it. So, with her, I’ve been doing a lot of encouraging. You certainly can’t force them, but you try to encourage them and make things fun.”

Janina personally checks books out from the library and brings them along to her tutoring sessions. She doesn’t like to go in empty-handed and always leaves knowing she helped her students. Janina embodies one of our core values: to supplement and enhance shared reading experiences to ignite a love of reading for elementary students throughout our community. We hope to continue to increase the impact of tutors like Janina and increase the reach of the tutoring program.

“Volunteer work is so important, in my opinion, because it’s a small but important way to give to the community,” says Janina. “Having worked in a library for 27 years, I know the value of teaching the kids to read and enjoy books. It puts them on a path for success later in life.
“It makes me feel good to know that I am helping one little person begin a love of reading.”

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